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Full text of "Three years in California [1851-1854 by J.D. Borthwick, with eight illustrations by the author"

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PAG 8 

California fever in the States The start New York to Panama- 
Shipboard Chagres Crossing the Isthmus The river Cruces 
Gorgona, ........ 1-25 


Panama in July 1851 Its architecture Shops Churches Dirt 
Diseases and diversions Embark for San Francisco Fever Hard 
fare Arrival, 26-42 


San Francisco Appearance of the houses Growth of the city The 
Plaza Ships in the streets Living Boot-blacks Restaurants 
Hotels, .... * : ; . 43-64 


Scarcity of labouring men High wages Want of social restraint 
Intense rivalry in all pursuits Disappointed hopes Drunkenness 
American style of drinking The bars Free luncheons The bar- 
keeper Variety of national houses The Chinese Chinese stores 
and washermen Theatres and gambling-rooms Masquerades "No 
weapons admitted" Magnificent shops Grading the streets Steam 
Paddy Raising houses Cabs Post-office Fire Fire companies 
Mission Dolores San Jose* Native Californians, . . . 65-93 


Start for the Mines The Sacramento River American river-steamboats 
in California Natural facilities for inland navigation, and promptness 
of the Americans in taking advantage of them Sacramento City 
Appearance of the houses Street nomenclature Staging Four-and- 
twenty four-horse coaches start together The plains The scenery 
The weather The mountains Mountain roads and American drivers 
First sight of gold-digging Arrival at Hangtown, . . 94-111 




San Andres A ragged camp Mexicans Gambling-rooms Music A 
church Throwing the lasso Lynch law An execution Angel's Camp 
Chinese A ball The Lancers" The Highland Fling, . 313-322 


Carson's Hill Rich quartz mine Mexican mode of working it The 
quartz vein of California Gold-deposits The Stanislaus River Ferries 
and bridges Sonora The houses and inhabitants Hotels and restau- 
rants A knowing Chinaman The police Gentlemen's fashions, 323-333 


A bull-fight Riding the bull Killing with the sword A magician- 
Necromancy in the mines Table Mountain Shaw's Flats, . 334-343 


Fire in Sonora Rapid progress of the fire, and total destruction of the 
town The burned-out inhabitants Deaths by fire Rebuilding of the 
town, ......... 344-352 


The Fourth of July The procession The celebration The oration A 
bull-fight A lady bull-fighter Natural bridges, . . . 353-362 


French miners Their me*nage Their capacity as miners Frenchmen as 
colonists Social equality in the mines The reason of it And the 
result, 363-374 


The Stockton stage The plains San Francisco Its progress Improve- 
ment in style of living Female influence Extravagance First settle- 
ment of California Effective population Americans as colonists 
English in California Modern discoveries of gold Their consequences, 375-384 


CAMP, Frontispiece. PAGR 

MONTE, ......... 118 

FARO, ... . . . ... . 192 

A FLUME ON THE YUBA, . . . . . 208 

CHINESE CAMP . . . 265 

BULL-FIGHT, . . 296 

A BALL IN THE MINES, . . . . '" .. - . -' . . .320 

SHAW'S FLATS, . . 343 




ABOUT the beginning of the year 1851, the rage 
for emigration to California from the United States 
was at its height. All sorts and conditions of men, 
old, young, and middle-aged, allured by the hope of 
acquiring sudden wealth, and fascinated with the 
adventure and excitement of a life in California, were 
relinquishing their existing pursuits and associations 
to commence a totally new existence in the land of 

The rush of eager gold-hunters was so great, that 
the Panama Steamship Company's office in New 
York used to be perfectly mobbed for a day and a 
night previous to the day appointed for selling tickets 
for their steamers. Sailing vessels were despatched 
for Chagres almost daily, carrying crowds of pas- 


sengers, while numbers went by the different routes 
through Mexico, and others chose the easier, but 
more tedious, passage round Cape Horn. 

The emigration from the Western States was 
naturally very large, the inhabitants being a class 
of men whose lives are spent in clearing the wild 
forests of the West, and gradually driving the Indian 
from his hunting-ground. 

Of these western-frontier men it is often said, 
that they are never satisfied if there is any white 
man between them and sundown. They are con- 
stantly moving westward ; for as the wild Indian is 
forced to retire before them, so they, in their turn, 
shrinking from the signs of civilisation which their 
own labours cause to appear around them, have to 
plunge deeper into the forest, in search of that wild 
border-life which has such charms for all who have 
ever experienced it. 

To men of this sort, the accounts of such a country 
as California, thousands of miles to the westward of 
them, were peculiarly attractive ; and so great was the 
emigration, that many parts of the Western States 
were nearly depopulated. The route followed by 
these people was that overland, across the plains, 
which was the most congenial to their tastes, and the 
most convenient for them, as, besides being already so 
far to the westward, they were also provided with the 
necessary waggons and oxen for the journey. For 
the sake of mutual protection against the Indians, 
they travelled in trains of a dozen or more waggons, 


carrying the women and children and provisions, ac- 
companied by a proportionate number of men, some 
on horses or mules, and others on foot. 

In May 1851 I happened to be residing in New 
York, and was seized with the California fever. 
My preparations were very soon made, and a day 
or two afterwards I found myself on board a small 
barque about to sail for Chagres with a load of Cali- 
fornia emigrants. Our vessel was little more than 
two hundred tons, and was entirely devoted to the 
accommodation of passengers. The ballast was 
covered with a temporary deck, and the whole inte- 
rior of the ship formed a saloon, round which were 
built three tiers of berths : a very rough extempore 
table and benches completed the furniture. There 
was no invidious distinction of cabin and steerage 
passengers in fact, excepting the captain's room, 
there was nothing which could be called a cabin in 
the ship. But all were in good spirits, and so much 
engrossed with thoughts of California that there was 
little disposition to grumble at the rough-and-ready 
style of our accommodation. For my own part, I 
knew I should have to rough it in California, and 
felt that I might just as well begin at once as wait 
till I got there. 

We numbered about sixty passengers, and a nice 
assortment we were. The majority, of course, were 
Americans, and were from all parts of the Union ; 
the rest were English, French, and German. We 
had representatives of nearly every trade, besides 


farmers, engineers, lawyers, doctors, merchants, and 
nondescript "young men." 

The first day out we had fine weather, with just 
sea enough to afford the uninitiated an opportunity 
of discovering the difference between the lee and the 
weather side of the ship. The second day we had a 
fresh breeze, which towards night blew a gale, and 
for a couple of days we were compelled to lay to. 

The greater part of the passengers, being from the 
interior of the country, had never seen the ocean 
before, and a gale of wind was a thing they did not 
understand at all. Those who were not too sick 
to be able to form an opinion on the subject, were 
frightened out of their senses, and imagined that all 
manner of dreadful things were going to happen to 
the ship. The first night of the gale, I was awoke 
by an old fool shouting frantically to the company in 
general, to get up and save the ship, because he heard 
the water rushing into her, and we should sink in a 
few minutes. He was very emphatically cursed for 
his trouble by those whose slumbers he had dis- 
turbed, and told to hold his tongue, and let those 
sleep who could, if he were unable to do so himself. 

It was certainly, however, not very easy to sleep 
that night. The ship was very crank, and but few 
of the party had taken the precaution to make fast 
their luggage ; the consequence was, that boxes and 
chests of all sizes, besides casks of provisions, and 
other ship's stores, which had got adrift, were cruis- 
ing about promiscuously, threatening to smash up the 


flimsy framework on which our berths were built, 
and endangering the limbs of any one who should 
venture to turn out. 

In the morning we found that the cook's galley 
had fetched way, and the stove was rendered use- 
less ; the steward and waiters landlubbers who were 
only working their passage to Chagres were as 
sick as the sickest, and so the prospect for breakfast 
was by no means encouraging. However, there were 
not more than half-a-dozen of us who could eat any- 
thing, or could even stand on deck ; so we roughed it 
out on cold beef, hard bread, and brandy-and- water. 

The sea was not very high, and the ship lay to 
comfortably and dry ; but, in the evening, some of the 
poor wretches below had worked themselves up to 
desperation, being sure, every time the ship laid over, 
that she was never coming up again. At last, one 
man, who could stand it no longer, jumped out of his 
berth, and, going down on his knees, commenced clap- 
ping his hands, and uttering the most dismal howls 
and groans, interspersed with disjointed fragments of 
prayers. He called on all hands to join him ; but it 
was not a form of worship to which many seemed to 
be accustomed, for only two men responded to his 
call. He very kindly consigned all the rest of the 
company to a place which I trust none of us may 
reach, and prayed that for the sake of the three 
righteous men himself and the other two the ship 
might be saved. They continued for about an hour, 
clapping their hands as if applauding, and crying and 


groaning most piteously so bereft of sense, by fear, 
that they seemed not to know the meaning of their 
incoherent exclamations. The captain, however, at 
last succeeded in persuading them that there was no 
danger, and they gradually cooled down, to the great 
relief of the rest of the passengers. 

The next day we had better weather, but the sick- 
list was as large as ever, and we had to mess again on 
whatever raw materials we could lay our hands on 
red-herrings, onions, ham, and biscuit. 

We deposed the steward as a useless vagabond, 
and appointed three passengers to fill his place, after 
which we fared a little better in fact, as well as the 
provisions at our command would allow. No one 
grumbled, excepting a few of the lowest class of men 
in the party, who had very likely never been used to 
such good living ashore. 

V/hen we got into the trade-winds we had delight- 
ful weather, very hot, but with a strong breeze at 
night, rendering it sufficiently cool to sleep in com- 
fort. The all-engrossing subject of conversation, and 
of meditation, was of course California, and the heaps 
of gold we were all to find there. As we had secured 
our passage only as far as Chagres, our progress from 
that point to San Francisco was also a matter of 
constant discussion. We all knew that every steamer 
to leave Panama, for months to come, was already 
full, and that hundreds of men were waiting there to 
take advantage of any opportunity that might occur 
of reaching San Francisco ; but among our passen- 


gers there were very few who were travelling in com- 
pany ; they were mostly all isolated individuals, each 
" on his own hook," and every one was perfectly 
confident that he at least would have no trouble in 
getting along, whatever might be the fate of the rest 
of the crowd. 

We added to the delicacies of our bill of fare occa- 
sionally by killing dolphins. They are very good 
eating, and afford capital sport. They come in small 
shoals of a dozen or so, and amuse themselves by 
playing about before the bows of the vessel, when> 
getting down into the martingale under the bowsprit, 
one takes the opportunity to let drive at them with 
the " grains," a small five-pronged harpoon. 

The dolphin, by the way, is most outrageously and 
systematically libelled. Instead of being the horrid, 
big-headed, crooked-backed monster which it is gene- 
rally represented, it is the most elegant and highly- 
finished fish that swims. 

For three or four days before reaching Chagres, all 
hands were busy packing up, and firing off and re- 
loading pistols ; for a revolver and a bowie-knife 
were considered the first items in a California outfit. 
We soon assumed a warlike appearance, and though 
many of the party had probably never handled a 
pistol in their lives before, they tried to wear their 
weapons in a neglige style, as if they never had been 
used to go without them. 

There were now also great consultations as to what 
sort of hats, coats, and boots, should be worn in cross- 


ing the Isthmus. Wondrous accounts constantly 
appeared in the New York papers of the dangers and 
difficulties of these few miles of land-and-river tra- 
vel, and most of the passengers, before leaving New 
York, had been humbugged into buying all manner 
of absurd and useless articles, many of them made of 
india-rubber, which they had been assured, and con- 
sequently believed, were absolutely necessary. But 
how to carry them all, or even how to use them, was 
the main difficulty, and would indeed have puzzled 
much cleverer men. 

Some were equipped with pots, pans, kettles, drink- 
ing-cups, knives and forks, spoons, pocket-filters (for 
they had been told that the water on the Isthmus 
was very dirty), india-rubber contrivances, which 
an ingenious man, with a powerful imagination and 
strong lungs, could blow up and convert into a bed, 
a boat, or a tent bottles of " cholera preventive," 
boxes of pills for curing every disease to which human 
nature is liable ; and some men, in addition to all this, 
determined to be prepared to combat danger in every 
shape, bade defiance to the waters of* the Chagres 
river by buckling on india-rubber life-preservers. 

Others of the party, who were older travellers, and 
who held all such accoutrements in utter contempt, 
had merely a small valise with a few necessary articles 
of clothing, an oil-skin coat, and, very probably, a 
pistol stowed away on some part of their person, 
which would be pretty sure to go off when occasion 
required, but not before. 


At last, after twenty days' passage from New York, 
we made Chagres, and got up to the anchorage 
towards evening. The scenery was very beautiful. 
We lay about three-quarters of a mile from shore, 
in a small bay enclosed by high bluffs, completely 
covered with dense foliage of every shade of green. 

We had but little time, however, to enjoy the 
scenery that evening, as we had scarcely anchored 
when the rain began to come down in true tropical 
style ; every drop was a bucketful. The thunder and 
lightning were terrific, and in good keeping with the 
rain, which is one of the things for which Chagres is 
celebrated. Its character as a sickly wretched place 
was so well known that none of us went ashore that 
night ; we all preferred sleeping aboard ship. 

It was very amusing to watch the change which 
had been coming over some of the men on board. 
They seemed to shrink within themselves, and to wish 
to avoid being included in any of the small parties 
which were being formed to make the passage up the 
river. They were those who had provided them- 
selves with innumerable contrivances for the protec- 
tion of their precious persons against sun, wind, and 
rain, also with extraordinary assortments of very un- 
tempting-looking provisions, and who were completely 
equipped with pistols, knives, and other warlike 
implements. They were like so many Eobinson 
Crusoes, ready to be put ashore on a desert island ; 
and they seemed to imagine themselves to be in just 
such a predicament, fearful, at the same time, that 


companionship with any one not provided with the 
same amount of rubbish as themselves, might involve 
their losing the exclusive benefit of what they sup- 
posed so absolutely necessary. I actually heard one 
of them refuse another man a chew of tobacco, say- 
ing he guessed he had no more than what he could 
use himself. 

The men of this sort, of whom I am happy to say 
there were not many, offered a striking contrast to 
the rest in another respect. On arriving at Chagres 
they became quite dejected and sulky, and seemed to 
be oppressed with anxiety, while the others were in 
a wild state of delight at having finished a tedious 
passage, and in anticipation of the novelty and ex- 
citement of crossing the Isthmus. 

In the morning several shore-boats, all pulled by 
Americans, came off to take us ashore. The landing 
here is rather dangerous. There is generally a very 
heavy swell, causing vessels to roll so much that 
getting into a small boat alongside is a matter of 
considerable difficulty ; and at the mouth of the 
river is a bar, on which are immense rollers, requiring 
good management to get over them in safety. 

We went ashore in torrents of rain, and when 
landed with our baggage on the muddy bank of the 
Chagres river, all as wet as if we had swam ashore, 
we were immediately beset by crowds of boatmen, 
Americans, natives, and Jamaica niggers, all endea- 
vouring to make a bargain with us for the passage 
up the river to Cruces. 


The town of Chagres is built on each side of the 
river, and consists of a few miserable cane-and-mud 
huts, with one or two equally wretched - looking 
wooden houses, which were hotels kept by Americans. 
On the top of the bluff, on the south side of the river, 
are the ruins of an old Spanish castle, which look 
very picturesque, almost concealed by the luxurious 
growth of trees and creepers around them. 

The natives seemed to be a miserable set of people, 
and the few Americans in the town were most sickly, 
washed -out -looking objects, with the appearance of 
having been steeped for a length of time in water. 

After breakfasting on ham and beans at one of the 
hotels, we selected a boat to convey us up the river; 
and as the owner had no crew engaged, we got him 
to take two sailors who had run away from our vessel, 
and were bound for California like the rest of us. 

There was a great variety of boats employed on 
the river whale-boats, ships' boats, skiffs, and canoes 
of all sizes, some of them capable of carrying fifteen 
or twenty people. It was still raining heavily when 
we started, but shortly afterwards the weather cleared 
up, and we felt in better humour to enjoy the magni- 
ficent scenery. The river was from seventy -five to 
a hundred yards wide, and the banks were completely 
hidden by the dense mass of vegetation overhanging 
the water. There was a vast variety of beautiful 
foliage, and many of the trees were draped in 
creepers, covered with large flowers of most brilliant 
colours. One of our party, who was a Scotch gardener, 


was in ecstacies at such a splendid natural flower- 
show, and gave us long Latin names for all the 
different specimens. The rest of my fellow-passengers 
were a big fat man from Buffalo, two young South- 
erners from South Carolina, three New-Yorkers, and 
a Swede. The boat was rather heavily laden, but for 
some hours we got along very well, as there was but 
little current. Towards the afternoon, however, our 
two sailors, who had been pulling all the time, began 
to flag, and at last said they could go no further 
without a rest. We were still many miles from the 
place where we were to pass the night, and as the 
banks of the river presented such a formidable 
barricade of jungle as to prevent a landing, we had 
the prospect of passing the night in the boat, unless 
we made the most of our time ; so the gardener and I 
volunteered to take a spell at the oars. But as we 
ascended the river the current became much stronger, 
and darkness overtook us some distance from our 
intended stopping-place. 

It became so very dark that we could not see 
six feet ahead of us, and were constantly bumping 
against other boats coming up the river. There were 
also many boats coming down with the current at 
such a rate, that if one had happened to run into us, 
we should have had but a poor chance, and we were 
obliged to keep shouting all the time to let our 
whereabouts be known. 

We were several times nearly capsized on snags, 
and, as we really could not see whether we were 


making any way or not, we came to the determina- 
tion of making fast to a tree till the moon should rise. 
It was now raining again as heavily as ever, and 
having fully expected to make the station that 
evening, we had taken no provisions with us. We 
were all very wet, very hungry, and more or less 
inclined to be in a bad humour. Consequently, the 
question of stopping or going ahead was not deter- 
mined without a great deal of wrangling and dis- 
cussion. However, our two sailors declared they 
would not pull another stroke the gardener and my- 
self were in favour of stopping and as none of the 
rest of our number were at all inclined to exert 
themselves, the question was thus settled for them, 
although they continued to discuss it for their own 
satisfaction for some time afterwards. 

It was about eight o'clock, when, catching hold of 
a bough of a tree twelve or fifteen feet from the 
shore, we made fast. We could not attempt to land, 
as the shore was so guarded by bushes and sunken 
branches as to render the nearer approach of the boat 

So here we were, thirteen of us, with a propor- 
tionate pile of baggage, cramped up in a small boat, 
in which we had spent the day, and were now doomed 
to pass the night, our miseries aggravated by torrents 
of rain, nothing to eat, and, worse than that, nothing 
to drink, but, worse than all, without even a dry 
match wherewith to light a pipe. If ever it is ex- 
cusable to chew tobacco, it surely is on such an 

14 A HOTEL. 

occasion as this. I had worked a good deal at the 
oar, and from the frequent alternations we had 
experienced of scorching heat and drenching rain, I 
felt as if I could enjoy a nap, notwithstanding the 
disagreeables of our position; but, fearing the con- 
sequences of sleeping under such circumstances in 
that climate, I kept myself awake the best way I 

We managed to get through the night somehow, 
and about three o'clock in the morning, as the moon 
began to give sufficient light to let us see where we 
were, we got under weigh again, and after a couple of 
hours' hard pulling, we arrived at the place we had 
expected to reach the evening before. 

It was a very beautiful little spot a small natural 
clearing on the top of a high bank, on which were 
one or two native huts, and a canvass establishment 
which had been set up by a Yankee, and was called a 
' Hotel." We went to this hotel, and found some 
twenty or thirty fellow-travellers, who had there 
enjoyed a night's rest, and were now just sitting 
down to breakfast at a long rough table which 
occupied the greater part of the house. The kitchen 
consisted of a cooking- stove in one corner, and 
opposite to it was the bar, which was supplied with a 
few bottles of bad brandy, while a number of canvass 
shelves, ranged all round, constituted the dormitory. 

We made up for the loss of our supper by eating a 
hearty breakfast of ham, beans, and eggs, and started 
again in company with our more fortunate fellow- 


travellers. The weather was once more bright and 
clear, and confined as we were between the densely 
wooded and steaming banks of the river, we found 
the heat most oppressive. 

We saw numbers of parrots of brilliant plumage, 
and a great many monkeys and alligators, at which 
there was a constant discharge of pistols and rifles, 
our passage being further enlivened by an occasional 
race with some of the other boats. 

The river still continued to become more rapid, and 
our progress was consequently very slow. The two 
sailors were quite unable to work all day at the oars ; 
the owner of the boat was a useless encumbrance ; 
he could not even steer; so the gardener and myself 
were again obliged occasionally to exert ourselves. 
The fact is, the boat was overloaded ; two men were not 
a sufficient crew ; and if we had not worked ourselves, 
we should never have got to Cruces. I wanted the 
other passengers to do their share of work for the 
common good, but some protested they did not know 
how to pull, others pleaded bad health, and the rest 
very coolly said, that having paid their money to be 
taken to Cruces, they expected to be taken there, and 
would not pull a stroke ; they did not care how long 
they might be on the river. 

It was evident that we had made a bad bargain, 
and if these other fellows would not lend a hand, it 
was only the more necessary that some one else 
should. It was rather provoking to see them sitting 
doggedly under their umbrellas, but we could not 


well pitch them overboard, or put them ashore, and I 
comforted myself with the idea that their turn would 
certainly come, notwithstanding their obstinacy. 

After a tedious day, during which we had, as be- 
fore, deluges of rain, with intervals of scorching sun- 
shine, we arrived about six o'clock at a native settle- 
ment, where we were to spend the night. 

It was a small clearing, with merely two or three 
huts, inhabited by eight or ten miserable -looking 
natives, mostly women. Their lazy listless way of 
doing things did not suit the humour we were in at 
all. The invariable reply to all demands for some- 
thing to eat and drink was poco tiempo (by-and-by), 
said in that sort of tone one would use to a trouble- 
some child. They knew very well we were at their 
mercy we could not go anywhere else for our supper 
and they took it easy accordingly. We succeeded 
at last in getting supper in instalments now a mouth- 
ful of ham, now an egg or a few beans, and then a 
cup of coffee, just as they could make up their 
minds to the violent exertion of getting these articles 
ready for us. 

About half-a-dozen other boat-loads of passengers 
were also stopping here, some fifty or sixty of us alto- 
gether, and three small shanties were the only shelter 
to be had. The native population crowded into one 
of them, and, in consideration of sundry dollars, 
allowed us the exclusive enjoyment of the other two. 
They were mere sheds about fifteen feet square, open 
all round ; but as the rain was again pouring down, 


we thought of the night before, and were thankful 
for small mercies. 

I secured a location with three or four others in 
the upper storey of one of these places a sort of loft 
made of bamboos about eight feet from the ground, 
to which we climbed by means of a pole with notches 
cut in it. 

The next day we found the river more rapid than 
ever. Oars were now useless we had to pole the 
boat up the stream ; and at last the patience of the 
rest of the party was exhausted, and they reluctantly 
took their turn at the work. We hardly made twelve 
miles, and halted in the evening at a place called Dos 
Hermanos, where were two native houses. 

Here we found already about fifty fellow-travellers, 
and several parties arrived after us. On the native 
landlord we were all dependent for supper ; but we, 
at least, were a little too late, as there was nothing 
to be had but boiled rice and coffee not even beans. 
There were a few live chickens about, which we would 
soon have disposed of, but cooking was out of the 
question. It was raining furiously, and there were 
sixty or seventy of us, all huddled into two small 
places of fifteen feet square, together with a number 
of natives and Jamaica negroes, the crews of some of 
the boats. Several of the passengers were in differ- 
ent stages of drunkenness, generally developing itself 
in a desire to fight, and more particularly to pitch 
into the natives and niggers. There seemed a prospect 
of a general set-to between black and white, which 


would have been a bloody one, as all the passengers 
had either a revolver or a bowie-knife most of them 
had both and the natives were provided with their 
machetes half knife, half cutlass which they always 
carry, and know how to use. Many of the Americans, 
however, were of the better class, and used their in- 
fluence to quiet the more unruly of their countrymen. 
One man made a most touching appeal to their honour 
not to " kick up a muss/' as there was a lady " of their 
own colour " in the next room, who was in a state of 
great agitation. The two rooms opened into each 
other, and were so full of men that one could hardly 
turn round, and the lady of our own colour was of 
course a myth. However, the more violent of the 
crowd quieted down a little, and affairs looked more 

We passed a most miserable night. We lay down 
as best we could, and were packed like sardines in a 
box. All wanted to sleep ; but if one man moved, he 
woke half-a-dozen others, who again in waking roused 
all the rest ; so sleep was, like our supper, only to be 
enjoyed in imagination, and all we could do was to 
wait intently for daylight. As soon as we could see, 
we all left the wretched place, none of us much im- 
proved in temper, or in general condition. It was 
still raining, and we had the pleasure of knowing that 
we should not get any breakfast for two or three 

We had another severe day on the river hot sun, 
heavy rain, and hard work ; and in the afternoon we 


arrived at Gorgona, a small village, where a great 
many passengers leave the river and take the road to 

Graces is about seven miles farther up the river, 
and from there the road to Panama is said to be much 
better, especially in wet weather, when the Gorgona 
road is almost impassable. 

The village of Gorgona consisted of a number of 
native shanties, built, in the usual style, of thin canes, 
between any two of which you might put your finger, 
and fastened together, in basket fashion, with the long 
woody tendrils with which the woods abound. The 
roof is of palm leaves, slanting up to a great height, 
so as to shed the heavy rains. Some of these houses 
have only three sides, others have only two, while 
some have none at all, being open all round ; and in 
all of them might be seen one or more natives swing- 
ing in a hammock, calmly and patiently waiting for 
time to roll on, or, it may be, deriving intense enjoy- 
ment from the mere consciousness of existence. 

There was a large canvass house, on which was 
painted "Gorgona Hotel." It was kept by an Ameri- 
can, the most unwholesome-looking individual I had 
yet seen ; he was the very personification of fever. 
We had here a very luxurious dinner, having plan- 
tains and eggs in addition to the usual fare of ham 
and beans. The upper storey of the hotel was a large 
loft, so low in the roof that one could not Stand 
straight up in it. In this there were sixty or seventy 
beds, so close together that there was just room to 


pass between them ; and as those at one end became 
tenanted, the passages leading to them were filled up 
with more beds, in such a manner that, when all were 
put up, not an inch of the floor could be seen. 

After our fatigues on the river, and the miserable 
way in which we had passed the night before, such 
sleeping accommodation as this appeared very invit- 
ing ; and immediately after dinner I appropriated one 
of the beds, and slept even on till daylight. We met 
here several men who were returning from Panama, on 
their way home again. They had been waiting there 
for some months for a steamer, by which they had 
tickets for San Francisco, and which was coming 
round the Horn. She was long overdue, however, 
and having lost patience, they were going home, in 
the vain hope of getting damages out of the owner of 
the steamer. If they had been very anxious to go 
to California, they might have sold their tickets, and 
taken the opportunity of a sailing-vessel from Panama; 
but from the way in which they spoke of their griev- 
ances, it was evident that they were home-sick, and 
glad of any excuse to turn tail and go back again. 

We had frequently, on our way up the river, seen 
different parties of our fellow-passengers. At Gor- 
gona we mustered strong ; and we found that, not- 
withstanding the disadvantage we had been under of 
having an overloaded boat, we had made as good 
time as any of them. 

A great many here took the road for Panama, but 
we determined to go on by the river to Graces, for 


the sake of the better road from that place. All our 
difficulties hitherto were nothing to what we en- 
countered in these last few miles. It was one con- 
tinued rapid all the way, and in many places some of 
us were obliged to get out and tow the boat, while 
the rest used the poles. 

We were all heartily disgusted with the river, and 
were satisfied, when we arrived at Cruces, that we 
had got over the worst of the Isthmus ; for however 
bad the road might be, it could not be harder 
travelling than we had already experienced. 

Cruces was just such a village as Gorgona, with a 
similar canvass hotel, kept by equally cadaverous- 
looking Americans. 

In establishing their hotels at different points on 
the Chagres river, the Americans encountered great 
opposition from the natives, who wished to reap all 
the benefit of the travel themselves ; but they were 
too many centuries behind the age to have any 
chance in fair competition ; and so they resorted to 
personal threats and violence, till the persuasive 
eloquence of Colt's revolvers, and the overwhelming 
numbers of American travellers, convinced them that 
they were wrong, and that they had better submit to 
their fate. 

One branch of business which the natives had all 
to themselves was mule-driving, and carrying baggage 
over the road from Cruces to Panama, and at this 
they had no competition to fear from any one. The 
luggage was either packed on mules, or carried on 


men's backs, being lashed into a sort of wicker- 
work contrivance, somewhat similar to those used by 
French porters, and so adjusted with straps that the 
weight bore directly down on the shoulders. It was 
astonishing to see what loads these men could carry 
over such a road ; and it really seemed inconsistent 
with their indolent character, that they should per- 
form, so actively, such prodigious feats of labour. 
Two hundred and fifty pounds weight was an average 
load for a man to walk off with, doing the twenty- 
five miles to Panama in a day and a half, and some 
men carried as much as three hundred pounds. They 
were well made, and muscular though not large men, 
and were apparently more of the Negro than the 

The journey to Panama was generally performed on 
mules, but frequently on foot ; and as the rest of our 
party intended to walk, I determined also to forego 
the luxury of a mule ; so, having engaged men to carry 
our baggage, we set out about two o'clock in the 

The weather was fine, and for a short distance out 
of Cruces the road was easy enough, and we were 
beginning to think we should have a pleasant journey ; 
but we were very soon undeceived, for it commenced 
to rain in the usual style, and the road became most 
dreadful. It was a continual climb over the rocky 
beds of precipitous gullies, the gully itself perhaps 
ten or twelve feet deep, and the dense wood on each 
side meeting over head, so that no fresh air relieved 


one in toiling along. We could generally see rocks 
sticking up out of the water, on which to put our feet, 
but we were occasionally, for a considerable distance, 
up to the knees in water and mud. 

The steep banks on each side of us were so close 
together, that in many places two packed mules could 
not pass each other ; sometimes, indeed, even a single 
mule got jammed by the trunk projecting on either 
side of him. It was a most fatiguing walk. When 
it did not rain, the heat was suffocating ; and when it 
rained, it poured. 

There was a place called the " Half-way House," to 
which we looked forward anxiously as the end of our 
day's journey; and as it was kept by an American, 
we expected to find it a comparatively comfortable 
place. But our disappointment was great, when, 
about dark, we arrived at this half-way house, and 
found it to be a miserable little tent, not much more 
than twelve feet square. 

On entering we found some eight or ten travellers 
in the same plight as ourselves, tired, hungry, wet 
through, and with aching limbs. The only furniture 
in the tent consisted of a rough table three feet long, 
and three cots. The ground was all wet and sloppy, 
and the rain kept dropping through the canvass over 
head. There were only two plates, and two knives 
and forks in the establishment, so we had to pitch 
into the salt pork and beans two at a time, while the 
rest of the crowd stood round and looked at us ; for 
the cots were the only seats in the place, and they 


were so rickety that not more than two men could 
sit on them at a time. 

More travellers continued to arrive ; and as the 
prospect of a night in such a place was so exceedingly 
dismal, I persuaded our party to return about half a 
mile to a native hut which we had passed on the 
road, to take our chance of what accommodation 
we could get there. We soon arranged with the 
woman, who seemed to be the only inhabitant of the 
house, to allow us to sleep in it ; and as we were all 
thoroughly soaked, every sort of waterproof coat hav- 
ing proved equally useless after the few days' severe 
trial we had given them, we looked out anxiously 
for any of the natives coming along with our trunks. 

In the mean time I borrowed a towel from the old 
woman of the shanty; and as it was now fair, I went 
into the bush, and got one of our two sailors, who had 
stuck by us, to rub me down as hard as he could. 
This entirely removed all pain and stiffness ; and 
though I had to put on my wet clothes again, I felt 
completely refreshed. 

Not long afterwards a native made his appearance, 
carrying the trunk of one of the party, who very gene- 
rously supplied us all from it with dry clothes, when 
we betook ourselves to our couches. They were not 
luxurious, being a number of dried hides laid on the 
floor, as hard as so many sheets of iron, and full of 
bumps and hollows ; but they were dry, which was all 
we cared about, for we thought of the poor devils 
sleeping in the mud in the half-way house. 


The next morning, as we proceeded on our journey, 
the road gradually improved as the country became 
more open. We were much refreshed by a light breeze 
off the sea, which we found a very agreeable change 
from the damp and suffocating heat of the forest ; and 
about mid-day, after a pleasant forenoon's walk, we 
strolled into the city of Panama. 



ON our arrival we found the population busily 
employed in celebrating one of their innumerable 
dias de fiesta. The streets presented a very gay 
appearance. The natives, all in their gala-dresses, 
were going the rounds of the numerous gaudily- 
ornamented altars which had been erected through- 
out the town ; and mingled with the crowd were 
numbers of Americans in every variety of California 
emigrant costume. The scene was further enlivened 
by the music, or rather the noise, of fifes, drums, 
and fiddles, with singing and chanting inside the 
churches, together with squibs and crackers, the 
firing of cannon, and the continual ringing of bells. 
The town is built on a small promontory, and is 
protected, on the two sides facing the sea, by batter- 
ies, and, on the land side, by a high wall and a moat. 
A large portion of the town, however, lies on the out- 
side of this. 


Most of the houses are built of wood, two storeys 
high, painted with bright colours, and with a corridor 
and verandah on the upper storey ; but the best 
houses are of stone, or sun-dried bricks plastered over 
and painted. 

The churches are all of the same style of archi- 
tecture which prevails throughout Spanish Ame- 
rica. They appeared to be in a very neglected state, 
bushes, and even trees, growing out of the crevices 
of the stones. The towers and pinnacles are orna- 
mented with a profusion of pearl-oyster shells, which, 
shining brightly in the sun, produce a very curious 

On the altars is a great display of gold and silver 
ornaments and images ; but the interiors, in other re- 
spects, are quite in keeping with the dilapidated un- 
cared-for appearance of the outside of the buildings. 

The natives are white, black, and every interme- 
diate shade of colour, being a mixture of Spanish, 
Negro, and Indian blood. Many of the women are 
very handsome, and on Sundays and holidays they 
dress very showily, mostly in white dresses, with 
bright-coloured ribbons, red or yellow slippers with- 
out stockings, flowers in their hair, and round their 
necks, gold chains, frequently composed of coins of 
various sizes linked together. They have a fashion 
of making their hair useful as well as ornamental, 
and it is not unusual to see the ends of three or four 
half-smoked cigars sticking out from the folds of 
their hair at the back of the head ; for though they 


srnoke a great deal, they never seem to finish a cigar 
at one smoking. It is amusing to watch the old 
women going to church. They come up smoking 
vigorously, with a cigar in full blast, but, when they 
get near the door, they reverse it, putting the lighted 
end into their mouth, and in this way they take half- 
a-dozen stiff pulls at it, which seems to have the 
effect of putting it out. They then stow away the 
stump in some of the recesses of their " back hair," 
to be smoked out on a future occasion. 

The native population of Panama is about eight 
thousand, but at this time there was also a floating 
population of Americans, varying from two to three 
thousand, all on their way to California ; some being 
detained for two or three months waiting for a 
steamer to come round the Horn, some waiting for 
sailing vessels, while others, more fortunate, found 
the steamer, for which they had tickets, ready for 
them on their arrival. Passengers returning from 
San Francisco did not remain any time in Panama, 
but went right on across the Isthmus to Chagres. 

The Americans, though so greatly inferior in num- 
bers to the natives, displayed so much more life and 
activity, even in doing nothing, that they formed by 
far the more prominent portion of the population. 
The main street of the town was densely crowded, 
day and night, with Americans in bright red flannel 
shirts, with the universal revolver and bowie-knife 
conspicuously displayed at their backs. 

Most of the principal houses in the town had been 


converted into hotels, which were kept by Ameri- 
cans, and bore, upon large signs, the favourite hotel 
names of the United States. There was also num- 
bers of large American stores or shops, of various 
descriptions, equally obtruding upon the attention 
of the public by the extent of their English signs, 
while, by a few lines of bad Spanish scrawled on a 
piece of paper at the side of the door, the poor 
natives were informed, as a mere matter of courtesy, 
that they also might enter in and buy, if they had the 
wherewithal to pay. Here and there, indeed, some 
native, with more enterprise than his neighbours, 
intimated to the public that is to say, to the Ameri- 
cans in a very modest sign, and in very bad 
English, that he had something or other to sell ; but 
his energy was all theoretical, for on going into his 
store you would find him half asleep in his ham- 
mock, out of which he would not rouse himself if he 
could possibly avoid it. You were welcome to buy 
as much as you pleased ; but he seemed to think it 
very hard that you could not do so without giving 
him at the same time the trouble of selling. 

Although all foreigners were spoken of as "los 
Americanos" by the natives, there were among them 
men from every country in Europe. The Frenchmen 
were the most numerous, some of whom kept stores 
and very good restaurants. There were also several 
large gambling saloons, which were always crowded, 
especially on Sundays, with natives and Americans 
gambling at the Spanish game of " Monte ;" and, of 


course, specimens were not wanting of that great 
American institution, the drinking saloon, at the 
bars of which a brisk business was done in brandy- 
smashes, whisky-skins, and all the other refreshing 
compounds for which the Americans are so justly 

Living in Panama was pretty hard. The hotels 
were all crammed full; the accommodation they 
afforded was somewhat in the same style as at Gor- 
gona, and they were consequently not very inviting 
places. Those who did not live in hotels had sleep- 
ing-quarters in private houses, and resorted to the 
restaurants for their meals, which was a much more 
comfortable mode of life. 

Ham, beans, chickens, eggs, and rice, were the 
principal articles of food. The beef was dreadfully 
tough, stringy, and tasteless, and was hardly ever 
eaten by the Americans, as it was generally found to 
be very unwholesome. 

There was here at this time a great deal of sick- 
ness, and absolute misery, among the Americans. 
Diarrhoea and fever were the prevalent diseases. 
The deaths were very numerous, but were frequently 
either the result of the imprudence of the patient 
himself, or of the total indifference as to his fate on 
the part of his neighbours, and the consequent want 
of any care or attendance whatever. The heartless 
selfishness one saw and heard of was truly disgusting. 
The principle of " every man for himself" was most 
strictly followed out, and a sick man seemed to be 


looked upon as a thing to be avoided, as a hindrance 
to one's own individual progress. 

There was an hospital attended by American 
physicians, and supported to a great extent by Cali- 
fornian generosity ; but it was quite incapable of 
accommodating all the sick ; and many a poor fellow, 
having exhausted his funds during his long deten- 
tion here, found, when he fell sick, that in parting 
with his money he had lost the only friend he had, 
and was allowed to die, as little cared for as if he 
had been a dog. 

An American characteristic is a weakness for 
quack medicines and specifics, and numbers of men 
here fell victims to the national mania, chiefly 
Yankees and Western men. Persons coming from a 
northern climate to such a place as Panama, are natu- 
rally apt at first to experience some slight derange- 
ment of their general health, which, with proper 
treatment, is easily rectified ; but these fellows were 
all provided with cholera preventive, fever preven- 
tive, and boxes of pills for the prevention and the 
cure of every known disease. The moment they 
imagined that there was anything wrong with them, 
they became alarmed, and dosed themselves with all 
the medicines they could get hold of, so that when 
they really were taken ill, they were already half 
poisoned with the stuff they had been swallowing. 
Many killed themselves by excessive drinking of the 
wretched liquor which was sold under the name of 
brandy, and others, by eating ravenously of fruit, 


green or ripe, at all hours of the day, or by living, for 
the sake of economy, on gingerbread and spruce-beer, 
which are also American weaknesses, and of which 
there were several enterprising Yankee manufacturers. 

The sickness was no doubt much increased by the 
outrageously filthy state of the town. There seemed 
to be absolutely no arrangement for cleanliness what- 
ever, and the heavy rains which fell, and washed 
down the streets, were all that saved the town from 
being swallowed up in the accumulation of its own 

Among the Americans en route for California were 
men of all classes professional men, merchants, labour- 
ers, sailors, farmers, mechanics, and numbers of long 
gaunt Western men, with rifles as long as themselves. 
The hotels were too crowded to allow of any distinc- 
tion of persons, and they were accordingly conducted 
on ultra-democratic principles. Some faint idea of 
the style of thing might be formed from a notice 
which was posted up in the bar-room of the most 
fashionable hotel. It ran as follows : " Gentlemen 
are requested to wear their coats at table, if they have 
them handy." This intimation, of course, in effect 
amounted to nothing at all, but at the same time 
there was a great deal in it. It showed that the 
landlord, being above vulgar prejudices himself, saw 
the necessity, in order to please all his guests, of 
overcoming the mutual prejudices existing between 
broadcloth and fine linen, and red flannel with no 
linen, sanctioning the wearing of coats at table on 


the part of the former, by making a public request 
that they would do so, while, of the shirt-sleeve 
gentlemen, those who had coats, and refused to wear 
them, could still glory in the knowledge that they 
were defying all interference with their individual 
rights ; and in behalf of the really coatless, those who 
could not call a coat their own, the idea was kindly 
suggested that that garment was only absent, because 
it was not " handy." 

As may be supposed, such a large and motley popu- 
lation of foreigners, confined in such a place as 
Panama, without any occupation, were not remark- 
ably quiet or orderly. Gambling, drinking, and cock- 
fighting were the principal amusements ; and drunken 
rows and fights, in which pistols and knives were 
freely used, were of frequent occurrence. 

The 4th of July was celebrated by the Americans 
in great style. The proceedings were conducted as 
is customary on such occasions in the United States. 
A procession was formed, which, headed by a number 
of fiddles, drums, bugles, and other instruments, all 
playing " Yankee Doodle " in a very free and inde- 
pendent manner, marched to the place of celebration, 
a circular canvass structure, where a circus company 
had been giving performances. When all were as- 
sembled, the Declaration of Independence was read, 
and the orator of the day made a flaming speech on 
the subject of George III. and the Universal Yankee 
nation. A gentleman then got up, and, speaking in 
Spanish, explained to the native portion of the as- 


sembly what all the row was about ; after which 
the meeting dispersed, and the further celebration of 
the day was continued at the bars of the different 

I met with an accident here which laid me up for 
several weeks. I suffered a good deal, and passed a 
most weary time. All the books I could get hold of 
did not last me more than a few days, and I had then 
no other pastime than to watch the humming-birds 
buzzing about the flowers which grew around my 

As soon as I was able to walk, I took passage in a 
barque about to sail for San Francisco. She carried 
about forty passengers ; and as she had ample cabin 
accommodation, we were so far comfortable enough. 
The company was, as might be expected, very miscel- 
laneous. Some were respectable men, and others were 
precious vagabonds. When we had been out but a 
few days, a fever broke out on board, which was not, 
however, of a very serious character. I got a touch 
of it, and could have cured myself very easily, but 
there was a man on board who passed for a doctor, 
having shipped as such : he had been physicking the 
others, and I reluctantly consented to allow him to 
doctor me also. He began by giving me some horrible 
emetic, which, however, had no effect ; so he continued 
to repeat it, dose after dose, each dose half a tumbler- 
ful, with still no effect, till, at last, he had given me 
so much of it, that he began to be alarmed for the 
consequences. I was a little alarmed myself, and 


putting my finger down my throat, I very soon re- 
lieved myself of all his villanous compounds. I think 
I fainted after it. I know I felt as if I was going to 
faint, and shortly afterwards was sensible of a lapse 
of time which I could not account for ; but on inquir- 
ing of some of my fellow-passengers, I could find no 
one who had so far interested himself on my account 
as to be able to give me any information on the 

I took my own case in hand after that, and very 
soon got rid of the fever, although the emetic treat- 
ment had so used me up that for a fortnight I was 
hardly able to stand. We afterwards discovered that 
this man was only now making his debut as a physi- 
cian. He had graduated, however, as a shoemaker, a 
farmer, and I don't know what else besides ; latterly 
he had practised as a horse-dealer, and I have no 
doubt it was some horse-medicine which he adminis- 
tered to me so freely. 

We had only two deaths on board, and in justice 
to the doctor, I must say he was not considered to 
have been the cause of either of them. One case was 
that of a young man, who, while the doctor was treat- 
ing him for fever, was at the same time privately 
treating himself to large doses, taken frequently, of 
bad brandy, of which he had an ample stock stowed 
away under his bed. About a day and a half settled 
him. The other was a much more melancholy case. 
He was a young Swede such a delicate, effeminate 
fellow that he seemed quite out of place among the 


rough and noisy characters who formed the rest of 
the party. A few days before we left Panama, a 
steamer had arrived from San Francisco with a great 
many cases of cholera on board. Numerous deaths 
had occurred in Panama, and considerable alarm pre- 
vailed there in consequence. The Swede was attacked 
with fever like the rest of us, but he had no force in 
him, either mental or bodily, to bear up against sick- 
ness under such circumstances ; and the fear of cholera 
had taken such possession of him, that he insisted 
upon it that he had cholera, and that he would die of 
it that night. His lamentations were most piteous, 
but ah 1 attempts to reassure him were in vain. He 
very soon became delirious, and died raving before 
morning. None of us were doctors enough to know 
exactly what he died of, but the general belief was 
that he frightened himself to death. The church- 
service was read over him by the supercargo, many 
of the passengers merely leaving their cards to be 
present at the ceremony, and as soon as he was 
launched over the side, resuming their game where 
they had been interrupted ; and this, moreover, was on 
a Sunday morning. In future the captain prohibited 
all card-playing on Sundays, but throughout the 
voyage nearly one-half of the passengers spent the 
whole day, and half the night, in playing the favourite 
game of " Poker," which is something like Brag, and at 
which they cheated each other in the most barefaced 
manner, so causing perpetual quarrels, which, how- 
ever, never ended in a fight for the reason, as it 


seemed to me, that as every one wore his bowie-knife, 
the prospect of getting his opponent's knife between 
his ribs deterred each man from drawing his own, or 
offering any violence whatever. 

The poor Swede had no friends on board ; nobody 
knew who he was, where he came from, or anything 
at all about him ; and so his effects were, a few days 
after his death, sold at auction by order of the 
captain, one of the passengers, who had been an 
auctioneer in the States, officiating on the occasion. 

Great rascalities were frequently practised at this 
time by those engaged in conveying passengers, in 
sailing vessels, from Panama to San Francisco. There 
were such numbers of men waiting anxiously in 
Panama to take the first opportunity, that offered, of 
reaching California, that there was no difficulty in 
filling any old tub of a ship with passengers ; and, 
when once men arrived in San Francisco, they were 
generally too much occupied in making dollars, to 
give any trouble on account of the treatment they 
had received on the voyage. 

Many vessels were consequently despatched with 
a load of passengers, most shamefully ill supplied 
with provisions, even what they had being of the 
most inferior quality; and it often happened that they 
had to touch in distress at the intermediate ports for 
the ordinary necessaries of life. 

We very soon found that our ship was no ex- 
ception. For the first few days we fared pretty well, 
but, by degrees, one article after another became used 


up ; and by the time \ve had been out a fortnight, we 
had absolutely nothing to eat and drink, but salt 
pork, musty flour, and bad coffee no mustard, 
vinegar, sugar, pepper, or anything of the sort, to 
render such food at all palatable, It may be imagined 
how delightful it was, in recovering from fever, when 
one naturally has a craving for something good to 
eat, to have no greater delicacy in the way of nour- 
ishment, than gruel made of musty flour, au naturel. 

There was great indignation among the passengers. 
A lot of California emigrants are not a crowd to be 
trifled with, and the idea of pitching the supercargo 
overboard was quite seriously entertained ; but, for- 
tunately for himself, he was a very plausible man, 
and succeeded in talking them into the belief that 
he was not to blame. 

We would have gone into some port for supplies, 
but, of such grub as we had, there was no scarcity on 
board, and we preferred making the most of it to in- 
curring delay by going in on the coast, where calms 
and light winds are so prevalent. 

We killed a porpoise occasionally, and eat him. 
The liver is the best part, and the only part generally 
eaten, being something like pig's liver, and by no 
means bad. I had frequently tasted the meat at sea 
before ; it is exceedingly hard, tough, and stringy, like 
the very worst beefsteak that can possibly be imagined ; 
and I used to think it barely eatable, when thoroughly 
disguised in sauce and spices, but now, after being so 
long under a severe salt- pork treatment, I thought 


porpoise steak a very delicious dish, even without 
any condiment to heighten its intrinsic excellence. 

We had been out about six weeks, when we sighted 
a ship, many miles off, going the same way as our- 
selves, and the captain determined to board her, and 
endeavour to get some of the articles of which we 
were so much in need. There was great excitement 
among the passengers ; all wanted to accompany the 
captain in his boat, but, to avoid making invidious 
distinctions, he refused to take any one unless he 
would pull an oar. I was one of four who volunteered 
to do so, and we left the ship amid clamorous in- 
junctions not to forget sugar, beef, molasses, vinegar, 
and so on whatever each man most longed for. We 
had four or five Frenchmen on board, who earnestly 
entreated me to get them even one bottle of oil. 

We had a long pull, as the stranger was in no 
hurry to heave-to for us ; and on coming up to her, 
we found her to be a Scotch barque, bound also for 
San Francisco, without passengers, but very nearly as 
badly off as ourselves. She could not spare us any- 
thing at all, but the captain gave us an invitation to 
dinner, which we accepted with the greatest pleasure. 
It was Sunday, and so the dinner was of course the 
best they could get up. It only consisted of fresh 
pork (the remains of their last pig), and duff; but with 
mustard to the pork, and sugar to the duff, it seemed 
to us a most sumptuous banquet ; and, not having the 
immediate prospect of such another for some time to 
come, we made the most of the present opportunity. 


In fact, we cleared the table. I don't know what the 
Scotch skipper thought of us, but if he really could 
have spared us anything, the ravenous way in which 
we demolished his dinner would surely have softened 
his heart. 

On arriving again alongside our own ship, with 
the boat empty as when we left her, we were 
greeted by a row of very long faces looking down on 
us over the side ; not a word was said, because they 
had watched us with the glass leaving the other 
vessel, and had seen that nothing was handed into 
the boat; and when we described the splendid dinner 
we had just eaten, the faces lengthened so much, and 
assumed such a very wistful expression, that it seemed 
a wanton piece of cruelty to have mentioned the 
circumstance at all. 

But, after all, our hard fare did not cause us much 
distress : we got used to it, and besides, a passage to 
California was not like a passage to any other place. 
Every one was so confident of acquiring an immense 
fortune there in an incredibly short time, that he 
was already making his plans for the future enjoy- 
ment of it, and present difficulties and hardships 
were not sufficiently appreciated. 

The time passed pleasantly enough ; all were dis- 
posed to be cheerful, and amongst so many men there 
are always some who afford amusement for the rest. 
Many found constant occupation in trading off their 
coats, hats, boots, trunks, or anything they possessed. 


I think scarcely any one went ashore in San Francisco 
with a single article of clothing which he possessed 
in Panama; and there was hardly an article of any 
man's wardrobe, which, by the time our voyage was 
over, had not at one time been the property of every 
other man on board the ship. 

We had one cantankerous old Englishman on 
board, who used to roll out, most volubly, good round 
English oaths, greatly to the amusement of some of 
the American passengers, for the English style of 
cursing and swearing is very different from that 
which prevails in the States. This old fellow was 
made a butt for all manner of practical jokes. He 
had a way of going to sleep during the day in all 
sorts of places; and when the dinner-bell rang, he 
would find himself tied hand and foot. They sewed 
up the sleeves of his coat, and then bet him long 
odds he could not put it on, and take it off again, 
within a minute. They made up cigars for him with 
some powder in the inside ; and in fact the jokes 
played off upon him were endless, the great fun 
being, apparently, to hear him swear, which he did 
most heartily. He always fancied himself ill, and 
said that quinine was the only thing that would save 
him ; but the quinine, like everything else on board, was 
all used up. However, one man put up some papers 
of flour and salt, and gave them to him as quinine, 
saying he had just found them in looking over his 
trunk. Constant inquiries were then made after the 


old man's health, when he declared the quinine was 
doing him a world of good, and that his appetite was 
much improved. 

He was so much teased at last that he used to go 
about with a naked bowie-knife in his hand, with 
which he threatened to do awful things to whoever 
interfered with him. But even this did not secure 
him much peace, and he was such a dreadfully 
crabbed old rascal, that I thought the stirring-up he 
got was quite necessary to keep him sweet. 

After a wretchedly long passage, during which we 
experienced nothing but calms, light winds, and 
heavy contrary gales, we entered the Golden Gates 
of San Francisco harbour with the first and only fair 
wind we were favoured with, and came to anchor 
before the city about eight o'clock in the evening. 



THE entrance to San Francisco harbour is between 
precipitous rocky headlands about a mile apart, 
and which have received the name of the Golden 
Gates. The harbour itself is a large sheet of. water, 
twelve miles across at its widest point, and in length 
forty or fifty miles, getting gradually narrower till 
at last it becomes a mere creek. 

On the north side of the harbour falls in the Sacra- 
mento, a large river, to which all the other rivers of 
California are tributary, and which is navigable for 
large vessels as far as Sacramento city, a distance of 
nearly two hundred miles. 

The city of San Francisco lies on the south shore, 
nearly opposite the mouth of the Sacramento, and 
four or five miles from the ocean. It is built on a 
semicircular inlet, about two miles across, at the foot 
of a succession of bleak sandy hills, covered here and 
there with scrubby brushwood. Before the discovery 


of gold in the country, it consisted merely of a few 
small houses occupied by native Californians, and 
one or two foreign merchants engaged in the export 
of hides and horns. The harbour was also a favour- 
ite watering-place for whalers and men-of-war, cruis- 
ing in that part of the world. 

At the time of our arrival in 1851, hardly a vestige 
remained of the original village. Everything bore 
evidence of newness, and the greater part of the city 
presented a makeshift and temporary appearance, 
being composed of the most motley collection of 
edifices, in the way of houses, which can well be 
conceived. Some were mere tents, with perhaps a 
wooden front sufficiently strong to support the sign 
of the occupant ; some were composed of sheets of 
zinc on a wooden framework ; there were numbers of 
corrugated iron houses, the most unsightly things 
possible, and generally painted brown ; there were 
many imported American houses, all, of course, 
painted white, with green shutters ; also dingy-looking 
Chinese houses, and occasionally some substantial 
brick buildings ; but the great majority were nonde- 
script, shapeless, patchwork concerns, in the fabrica- 
tion of which, sheet-iron, wood, zinc, and canvass, 
seemed to have been employed indiscriminately; 
while here and there, in the middle of a row of such 
houses, appeared the hulk of a ship, which had been 
hauled up, and now served as a warehouse, the cabins 
being fitted up as offices, or sometimes converted 
into a boarding-house. 


The hills rose so abruptly from the shore that there 
was not room for the rapid extension of the city, and 
as sites were more valuable, as they were nearer the 
shipping, the first growth of the city was out into 
the bay. Already houses had been built out on piles 
for nearly half-a-mile beyond the original high-water 
mark ; and it was thus that ships, having been hauled 
up and built in, came to occupy a position so com- 
pletely out of their element. The hills are of a very 
loose sandy soil, and were consequently easily graded 
sufficiently to admit of being built upon ; and what 
was removed from the hills was used to fill up the 
space gained from the bay. This has been done to 
such an extent, that at the present day the whole of 
the business part of the city of San Francisco stands 
on solid ground, where a few years ago large ships 
lay at anchor ; and what was then high-water mark 
is now more than a mile inland. 

The principal street of the town was about three- 
quarters of a mile long, and in it were most of the 
bankers' offices, the principal stores, some of the best 
restaurants, and numerous drinking and gambling 

In the Plaza, a large open square, was the only 
remaining house of the San Francisco of other days 
a small cottage built of sun-dried bricks. Two sides 
of the Plaza were composed of the most imposing- 
looking houses in the city, some of which were of 
brick several stories high ; others, though of wood, 
were large buildings with handsome fronts in imita- 


tion of stone, and nearly every one of them was a 

Scattered over the hills overhanging the town, 
apparently at random, but all on specified lots, on 
streets which as yet were only defined by rude fences, 
were habitations of various descriptions, handsome 
wooden houses of three or four storeys, neat little 
cottages, iron houses, and tents innumerable. 

Eents were exorbitantly high, and servants were 
hardly to be had for money ; housekeeping was con- 
sequently only undertaken by those who did not fear 
the expense, and who were so fortunate as to have 
their families with them. The population, however, 
consisted chiefly of single men, and the usual style of 
living was to have some sort of room to sleep in, and 
to board at a restaurant. But even a room to one- 
self was an expensive luxury, and it was more usual 
for men to sleep in their stores or offices. As for a 
bed, no one was particular about that ; a shake- 
down on a table, or on the floor, was as common as 
anything else, and sheets were a luxury but little 
thought of. Every man was his own servant, and 
his own porter besides. It was nothing unusual to 
see a respectable old gentleman, perhaps some old 
paterfamilias, who at home would have been horrified 
at the idea of doing such a thing, open his store in 
the morning himself, take a broom and sweep it out, 
and then proceed to blacken his boots. 

The boot-blacking trade, however, was one which 
sprung up and flourished rapidly. It was monopo- 


lised by Frenchmen, and was principally conducted 
in the Plaza, on the long row of steps in front of 
the gambling saloons. At first the accommodation 
afforded was not very great. One had to stand upon 
one foot and place the other on a little box, while a 
Frenchman, standing a few steps below, operated 
upon it. Presently arm-chairs were introduced, and, 
the boot-blacks working in partnership, time was 
economised by both boots being polished simulta- 
neously. It was a curious sight to see thirty or forty 
men sitting in a row in the most public part of the 
city having their boots blacked, while as many more 
stood waiting for their turn. The next improvement 
was being accommodated with the morning papers 
while undergoing the operation ; and finally, the 
boot-blacking fraternity, keeping pace with the pro- 
gressive spirit of the age, opened saloons furnished 
with rows of easy-chairs on a raised platform, in 
which the patients sat and read the news, or admired 
themselves in the mirror on the opposite wall. The 
regular charge for having one's boots polished was 
twenty-five cents, an English shilling the smallest 
sum worth mentioning in California. 

In 1851, however, things had not attained such a 
pitch of refinement as to render the appearance of a 
man's boots a matter of the slightest consequence. 

As far as mere eating and drinking went, living 
was good enough. The market was well supplied 
with every description of game venison, elk, ante- 
lope, grizzly bear, and an infinite variety of wild- 


fowl. The harbour abounded with fish, and the Sac- 
ramento river was full of splendid salmon, equal in 
flavour to those of the Scottish rivers, though in 
appearance not quite such a highly-finished fish, being 
rather clumsy about the tail. 

Vegetables were not so plentiful. Potatoes and 
onions, as fine as any in the world, were the great 
stand-by. Other vegetables, though scarce, were pro- 
duced in equal perfection, and upon a gigantic scale. 
A beetroot weighing a hundred pounds, and that 
looked like the trunk of a tree, was not thought a 
very remarkable specimen. 

The wild geese and ducks were extremely numer- 
ous all round the shores of the bay, and many men, 
chiefly English and French, who would have scorned 
the idea of selling their game at home, here turned 
their sporting abilities to good account, and made 
their guns a source of handsome profit. A French- 
man with whom I was acquainted killed fifteen 
hundred dollars' worth of game in two weeks. 

There were two or three French restaurants nearly 
equal to some of the best in Paris, where the cheapest 
dinner one could get cost three dollars ; but there 
were also numbers of excellent French and American 
houses, at which one could live much more reasonably. 
Good hotels were not wanting, but they were ridicu- 
lously extravagant places ; and though flimsy concerns, 
built of wood, and not presenting very ostentatious 
exteriors, they were fitted up with all the lavish dis- 
play which characterises the fashionable hotels of 


New York. In fact, all places of public resort were fur- 
nished and decorated in a style of most barbaric splen- 
dour, being filled with the costliest French furniture, 
and a profusion of immense mirrors, gorgeous gilding, 
magnificent chandeliers, and gold and china ornaments, 
conveying an idea of luxurious refinement which con- 
trasted strangely with the appearance and occupa- 
tions of the people by whom they were frequented. 

San Francisco exhibited an immense amount of 
vitality compressed into a small compass, and a degree 
of earnestness was observable in every action of a 
man's daily life. People lived more there in a week 
than they would in a year in most other places. 

In the course of a month, or a year, in San Fran- 
cisco, there was more hard work done, more specula- 
tive schemes were conceived and executed, more 
money was made and lost, there was more buying and 
selling, more sudden changes of fortune, more eating 
and drinking, more smoking, swearing, gambling, 
and tobacco-chewing, more crime and profligacy, 
and, at the same time, more solid advancement made 
by the people, as a body, in wealth, prosperity, and 
the refinements of civilisation, than could be shown 
in an equal space of time by any community of the 
same size on the face of the earth. 

The every-day jog-trot of ordinary human exist- 
ence was not a fast enough pace for Californians in 
their impetuous pursuit of wealth. The longest 
period of time ever thought of was a month. Money 
was loaned, and houses were rented, by the month ; 



interest and rent being invariably payable monthly 
and in advance. All engagements were made by the 
month, during which period the changes and contin- 
gencies were so great that no one was willing to 
commit himself for a longer term. In the space of a 
month the whole city might be swept off by fire, and 
a totally new one might be flourishing in its place. 
So great was the constant fluctuation in the prices of 
goods, and so rash and speculative was the usual 
style of business, that no great idea of stability could 
be attached to anything, and the ever-varying aspect of 
the streets, as the houses were being constantly pulled 
down and rebuilt, was emblematic of the equally 
varying fortunes of the inhabitants. 

The streets presented a scene of intense bustle and 
excitement. The side-walks were blocked up with 
piles of goods, in front of the already crowded 
stores ; men hurried along with the air of having 
the weight of all the business of California on their 
shoulders ; others stood in groups at the corners 
of the streets ; here and there was a drunken man 
lying grovelling in the mud, enjoying himself as 
uninterruptedly as if he were merely a hog ; old 
miners, probably on their way home, were loafing 
about, staring at everything, in all the glory of 
mining costume, jealous of every inch of their long 
hair and flowing beards, and of every bit of Cali- 
fornia mud which adhered to their ragged old shirts 
and patchwork pantaloons, as evidences that they, at 
least, had " seen the elephant/' 


Troops of newly arrived Frenchmen marched 
along, en route for the mines, staggering under 
their equipment of knapsacks, shovels, picks, tin 
wash-bowls, pistols, knives, swords, and double- 
barrel guns their blankets slung over their should- 
ers, and their persons hung around with tin cups, 
frying-pans, coffee-pots, and other culinary utensils, 
with perhaps a hatchet and a spare pair of boots. 
Crowds of Chinamen were also to be seen, bound 
for the diggings, under gigantic basket-hats, each 
man with a bamboo laid across his shoulder, from 
both ends of which were suspended a higgledy- 
piggledy collection of mining tools, Chinese baskets 
and boxes, immense boots, and a variety of Chinese 
"fixins," which no one but a Chinaman could tell the 
use of, all speaking at once, gabbling and chattering 
their horrid jargon, and producing a noise like that 
of a flock of geese. There were continuous streams 
of drays drawn by splendid horses, and loaded with 
merchandise from all parts of the world, and horse- 
men galloped about, equally regardless of their own 
and of other men's lives. 

Two or three auctioneers might be heard at 
once, " crying " their goods with characteristic Cali- 
fornia vehemence, while some of their neighbours 
in the same line of business were ringing bells to 
collect an audience and at the same time one's 
ears were dinned with the discord of half-a-dozen 
brass bands, braying out different popular airs from 
as many different gambling saloons. In the midst 


of it all, the runners, or tooters, for the opposition 
river-steamboats, would be cracking up the superi- 
ority of their respective boats at the top of their 
lungs, somewhat in this style : " One dollar to-night 
for Sacramento, by the splendid steamer Senator, 
the fastest boat that ever turned a wheel from Long 
wharf with feather pillows and curled-hair mattresses, 
mahogany doors and silver hinges. She has got 
eight young-lady passengers to-night, that speak all 
the dead languages, and not a coloured man from 
stem to stern of her." Here an opposition runner 
would let out upon him, and the two would slang 
each other in the choicest California Billingsgate for 
the amusement of the admiring crowd. 

Standing at the door of a gambling saloon, with 
one foot raised on the steps, would be a well-dressed 
young man, playing thimblerig on his leg with a golden 
pea, for the edification of a crowd of gaping green- 
horns, some one of whom would be sure to bite. Not 
far off would be found a precocious little blackguard of 
fourteen or fifteen, standing behind a cask, and play- 
ing on the head of it a sort of thimblerig game with 
three cards, called " French monte." He first shows 
their faces, and names one say the ace of spades as 
the winning card, and after thimblerigging them on 
the head of the cask, he lays them in a row with their 
faces down, and goes on proclaiming to the public in a 
loud voice that the ace of spades is the winning card, 
and that he'll "bet any man one or two hundred 
dollars he can't pick up the ace of spades." Occasion- 

MUSS." 53 

ally some man, after watching the trick for a little, 
thinks it the easiest thing possible to tell which is the 
ace of spades, and loses his hundred dollars accord- 
ingly, when the youngster pockets the money and his 
cards, and moves off to another location, not being so 
soft as to repeat the joke too often, or to take a 
smaller bet than a hundred dollars. 

There were also newsboys with their shrill voices, 
crying their various papers with the latest intelligence 
from all parts of the world, and boys with boxes of 
cigars, offering " the best Havannah cigars for a bit 
a-piece, as good as you can get in the stores for a 
quarter/' A " bit'' is twelve and a half cents, or an 
English sixpence, and for all one could buy with it, 
was but little less useless than an English farthing. 

Presently one would hear " Hullo ! there's a muss ! " 
(Anglice, a row), and men would be seen rushing to 
the spot from all quarters. Auction-rooms, gambling- 
rooms, stores, and drinking-shops would be emptied, 
and a mob collected in the street in a moment. The 
"muss" would probably be only a difficulty between 
two gentlemen, who had referred it to the arbitration 
of knives or pistols ; but if no one was killed, the 
mob would disperse, to resume their various occupa- 
tions, just as quickly as they had collected. 

Some of the principal streets were planked, as was 
also, of course, that part of the city which was built 
on piles ; but where there was no planking, the mud 
was ankle-deep, and in many places there were mud- 
holes, rendering the street almost impassable. The 


streets were the general receptacle for every descrip- 
tion of rubbish. They were chiefly covered with bits 
of broken boxes and casks, fragments of hampers, 
iron hoops, old tin cases, and empty bottles. In the 
vicinity of the numerous Jew slop-shops, they were 
thickly strewed with old boots, hats, coats, and pan- 
taloons; for the majority of the population carried 
their wardrobe on their backs, and when they bought 
a new article of dress, the old one which it was to 
replace was pitched into the street. 

I often wondered that none of the enterprising 
" old clo" fraternity ever opened a business in Cali- 
fornia. They might have got shiploads of old 
clothes for the trouble of picking them up. Some of 
them, doubtless, were not worth the trouble, but there 
were always tons of cast-off garments kicking about 
the streets, which I think an " old clo " of any ingen- 
uity could have rendered available. California was 
often said to be famous for three things rats, fleas, 
and empty bottles ; but old clothes might well have 
been added to the list. 

The whole place swarmed with rats of an enor- 
mous size ; one could hardly walk at night without 
treading on them. They destroyed an immense 
deal of property, and a good ratting terrier was 
worth his weight in gold dust. I knew instances, 
however, of first-rate terriers in Sacramento City 
(which for rats beat San Francisco hollow) becom- 
ing at last so utterly disgusted with killing rats, that 


they ceased to consider it any sport at all, and 
allowed the rats to run under their noses without 
deigning to look at them. 

As for the other industrious little animals, they 
were a terrible nuisance. I suppose they were indi- 
genous to the sandy soil. It was quite a common 
thing to see a gentleman suddenly pull up the sleeve 
of his coat, or the leg of his trousers, and smile in 
triumph when he caught his little tormentor. After 
a few weeks' residence in San Francisco, one became 
naturally very expert at this sort of thing. 

Of the last article the empty bottles the enor- 
mous heaps of them, piled up in all sorts of out-of- 
the-way places, suggested a consumption of liquor 
which was truly awful. Empty bottles were as plen- 
tiful as bricks and a large city might have been 
built with them. 

The appearance of the people, being, as they were, 
a sort of world's show of humanity, was extremely 
curious and diversified. There were Chinamen in all 
the splendour of sky-blue or purple figured silk 
jackets, and tight yellow satin continuations, black 
satin shoes with thick white soles, and white gaiters ; 
a fan in their hand, and a beautifully plaited glossy 
pigtail hanging down to their heels from under a 
scarlet scull- cap, with a gold knob on the top of it. 
These were the swell Chinamen ; the lower orders of 
Celestials were generally dressed in immensely wide 
blue calico jackets and bags, for they really could 


not be called trousers, and on their heads they wore 
an enormous wickerwork extinguisher, which would 
have made a very good family clothes-basket. 

The Mexicans were very numerous, and wore their 
national costume the bright-coloured serape thrown 
gracefully over the left shoulder, with rows of silver 
buttons down the outside of their trousers, which 
were generally left open, so as to show the loose white 
drawers underneath, and the silver-handled bowie- 
knife in the stamped leather leggins. 

Englishmen seemed to adhere to the shooting-coat 
style of dress, and the down-east Yankees to their 
eternal black dress-coat, black pantaloons, and black 
satin waistcoat ; while New Yorkers, southerners, and 
Frenchmen, came out in the latest Paris fashions. 

Those who did not stick to their former style of 
dress, indulged in all the extravagant license of Cali- 
fornia costume, which was of every variety that 
caprice could suggest. No man could make his ap- 
pearance sufficiently bizarre to attract any attention. 
The prevailing fashion among the rag -tag and 
bobtail was a red or blue flannel shirt, wide-awake 
hats of every conceivable shape and colour, and 
trousers stuffed into a big pair of boots. 

Pistols and knives were usually worn in the belt at 
the back, and to be without either was the exception 
to the rule. 

The few ladies who were already in San Francisco, 
very naturally avoided appearing in public ; but 
numbers of female toilettes, of the most extrava- 


gantly rich and gorgeous materials, swept the muddy 
streets, and added not a little to the incongruous 
variety of the scene. 

To a cursory visitor, auction-sales and gambling 
would have appeared two of the principal features of 
the city. 

The gambling saloons were very numerous, occu- 
pying the most prominent positions in the leading- 
thoroughfares, and all of them presenting a more 
conspicuous appearance than the generality of houses 
around them. They were thronged day and night, 
and in each was a very good band of music, the per- 
formers being usually German or French, 

On entering a first-class gambling room, one found 
a large well-proportioned saloon sixty or seventy feet 
long, brilliantly lighted up by several very fine chan- 
deliers, the walls decorated with ornamental painting 
and gilding, and hung with large mirrors and showy 
pictures, while in an elevated projecting orchestra 
half-a-dozen Germans were playing operatic music. 
There were a dozen or more tables in the room, 
each with a compact crowd of eager betters around 
it, and the whole room was so filled with men that 
elbowing one's way between the tables was a matter 
of difficulty. The atmosphere was quite hazy with 
the quantity of tobacco smoke, and was strongly im- 
pregnated with the fumes of brandy. If one hap- 
pened to enter while the musicians were taking a 
rest, the quiet and stillness were remarkable. Nothing 
was heard but a slight hum of voices, and the con- 


stant chinking of money ; for it was the fashion, while 
standing betting at a table, to have a lot of dollars in 
one's hands, and to keep shuffling them backwards 
and forwards like so many cards. 

The people composing the crowd were men of 
every class, from the highest to the lowest, and, 
though the same as might be seen elsewhere, their 
extraordinary variety of character and of dress 
appeared still more curious from their being brought 
into such close juxtaposition, and apparently placed 
upon an equality. Seated round the same table 
might be seen well-dressed respectable-looking men, 
and, alongside of them, rough miners fresh from the 
diggings, with well-filled buckskin purses, dirty old 
flannel shirts, and shapeless hats ; jolly tars half-seas 
over, not understanding anything about the game, 
nor apparently taking any interest in it, but having 
their spree out at the gaming-table because it was the 
fashion, and good-humouredly losing their pile of 
five or six hundred or a thousand dollars ; Mexicans 
wrapped up in their blankets smoking cigaritas, and 
watching the game intently from under their broad- 
brimmed hats ; Frenchmen in their blouses smoking 
black pipes ; and little urchins, or little old scamps 
rather, ten or twelve years of age, smoking cigars as 
big as themselves, with the air of men who were quite 
up to all the hooks and crooks of this wicked world 
(as indeed they were), and losing their hundred dol- 
lars at a pop with all the nonchalance of an old 
gambler ; while crowds of men, some dressed like 


gentlemen, and mixed with all sorts of nondescript 
ragamuffins, crowded round, and stretched over those 
seated at the tables, in order to make their bets. 

There were dirty, squalid, villanous - looking 
scoundrels, who never looked straight out of their 
eyes, but still were always looking at something, as 
if they were " making a note of it," and who could 
have made their faces their fortunes in some parts 
of the world, by " sitting " for murderers, or ruffians 

Occasionally one saw, jostled about unresistingly 
by the crowd, and as if the crowd ignored its exist- 
ence, the live carcass of some wretched, dazed, woe- 
begone man, clad in the worn-out greasy habili- 
ments of quondam gentility ; the glassy unintelligent 
eye looking as if no focus could be found for it, but 
as if it saw a dim misty vision of everything all at 
once ; the only meaning in the face being about the 
lips, where still lingered the smack of grateful enjoy- 
ment of the last mouthful of whisky, blended with a 
longing humble sigh for the speedy recurrence of any 
opportunity of again experiencing such an awakening 
bliss, and forcibly expressing an unquenchable thirst 
for strong drinks, together with the total absence of 
all power to do anything towards relieving it, while 
the whole appearance of the man spoke of bitter 
disappointment and reverses, without the force to 
bear up under them. He was the picture of sottish 
despair, and the name of his duplicates was legion. 

There was in the crowd a large proportion of sleek 

60 MONTE. 


well-shaven men, in stove-pipe hats and broadcloth; 
but, however nearly a man might approach in appear- 
ance to the conventional idea of a gentleman, it is 
not to be supposed, on that account, that he either 
was, or got the credit of being, a bit better than his 
neighbours. The man standing next him, in the 
guise of a labouring man, was perhaps his superior in 
wealth, character, and education. Appearances, at 
least as far as dress was concerned, went for nothing 
at all. A man was judged by the amount of money 
in his purse, and frequently the man to be most 
courted for his dollars was the most to be despised for 
his looks. 

One element of mixed crowds of people, in the 
States and in this country, was very poorly repre- 
sented. There were scarcely any of the lower order 
of Irish ; the cost of emigration to California was 
at that time too great for the majority of that class, 
although now the Irish population of San Francisco 
is nearly equal in proportion to that in the large 
cities of the Union. 

The Spanish game of monte, which was introduced 
into California by the crowds of Mexicans who came 
there, was at this time the most popular game, and 
was dealt almost exclusively by Mexicans. It is 
played on a table about six feet by four, on each side 
of which sits a dealer, and between them is the bank 
of gold and silver coin, to the amount of five or ten 
thousand dollars, piled up in rows covering a space of 
a couple of square feet. The game is played with 

FARO. 61 

Spanish cards, which are differently figured from the 
usual playing-cards, and have only forty-eight in the 
pack, the ten being wanting. At either end of the 
table two compartments are marked on the cloth, 
on each of which the dealer lays out a card. Bets 
are then made by placing one's stake on the card 
betted on ; and are decided according to which of 
those laid out first makes its appearance, as the 
dealer draws card after card from the top of the 
pack. It is a game at which the dealer has such 
advantages, and which, at the same time, gives him 
such facilities for cheating, that any one who con- 
tinues to bet at it is sure to be fleeced. 

Faro, which was the more favourite game for 
heavy betting, and was dealt chiefly by Americans, 
is played on a table the same size as a monte table. 
Laid out upon it are all the thirteen cards of a suit, 
on any of which one makes his bets, to be decided 
according as the same card appears first or second as 
the dealer draws them two by two off the top of the 

Faro was generally played by systematic gamblers, 
who knew, or thought they knew, what they were 
about ; while monte, from its being apparently more 
simple, was patronised by novices. There were also 
roulette and rouge-et-noir tables, and an infinite 
variety of small games played with dice, and classed 
under the general appellation of " chuck-a-luck." 

I should mention that in California the word 
gambler is not used in exactly the same abstract sense 


as with us. An individual might spend all his time, 
and gain his living, in betting at public gaming- 
tables, but that would not entitle him to the distinc- 
tive appellation of a gambler ; it would only be said 
of him, that he gambled. 

The gamblers were only the professionals, the men 
who laid out their banks in public rooms, and in- 
vited all and sundry to bet against them. They were 
a distinct and numerous class of the community, who 
followed their profession for the accommodation of 
the public ; and any one who did business with them 
was no more a " gambler" than a man who bought 
a pound of tea was a grocer. 

At this time the gamblers were, as a general 
thing, the best-dressed men in San Francisco. Many 
of them were very gentlemanly in appearance, but 
there was a peculiar air about them which denoted 
their profession so much so, that one might fre- 
quently hear the remark, that such a person " looked 
like a gambler." They had a haggard, careworn look 
(though that was nothing uncommon in California), 
and as they sat dealing at their tables, no fluctuation 
of fortune caused the slightest change in the expres- 
sion of their face, which was that of being intently 
occupied with their game, but at the same time totally 
indifferent as to the result. Even among the betters 
the same thing was remarkable, though in a less de- 
gree, for the struggle to appear unconcerned when 
a man lost his all, was often too plainly evident. 

The Mexicans showed the most admirable impas- 


sibility. I have seen one betting so high at a monte 
table that a crowd collected round to watch the result. 
After winning a large sum of money, he finally staked 
it all on one card, and lost, when he exhibited less 
concern than many of the bystanders, for he merely 
condescended to give a slight shrug of his shoulders 
as he lighted his cigarita and strolled slowly off. 

In the forenoon, when gambling was slack, the 
gamblers would get up from their tables, and, leaving 
exposed upon them, at the mercy of the heterogene- 
ous crowd circulating through the room, piles of gold 
and silver, they would walk away, seemingly as little 
anxious for the safety of their money as if it were 
under lock and key in an iron chest. It was strange 
to see so much apparent confidence in the honesty of 
human nature, and, in a city where robberies and vio- 
lence were so rife, that, when out at night in unfre- 
quented quarters, one walked pistol in hand in the mid- 
dle of the street, to see money exposed in such a way as 
would be thought madness in any other part of the 
world. But here the summary justice likely to be 
dispensed by the crowd, was sufficient to insure a 
due observance of the law of meum and tuum. 

These saloons were not by any means frequented 
exclusively by persons who went there for the pur- 
pose of gambling. Few men had much inducement 
to pass their evenings in their miserable homes, and 
the gambling-rooms were a favourite public resort, the 
music alone offering sufficient attraction to many who 
never thought of staking a dollar at any of the tables. 

64 " DRINKS." 

Another very attractive feature is the bar, a long 
polished mahogany or marble counter, at which 
two or three smart young men officiated, having be- 
hind them long rows of ornamental bottles, contain- 
ing all the numerous ingredients necessary for con- 
cocting the hundred and one different " drinks" 
which were called for. This was also the most elabo- 
rately-decorated part of the room, the wall being 
completely covered with mirrors and gilding, and 
further ornamented with china vases, bouquets of 
flowers, and gold clocks. 

Hither small parties of men are continually repair- 
ing to " take a drink." Perhaps they each choose a 
different kind of punch, or sling, or cocktail, requir- 
ing various combinations, in different proportions, of 
whisky, brandy, or gin, with sugar, bitters, pepper- 
mint, absinthe, curacoa, lemon-peel, mint, and what 
not ; but the bar-keeper mixes them all as if by 
magic, when each man, taking his glass, and tipping 
those of all the rest as he mutters some sentiment, 
swallows the compound and wipes his moustache. 
The party then move off to make way for others, the 
whole operation from beginning to end not occupy- 
ing more than a couple of minutes. 



A MOST useful quality for a California emigrant was 
one which the Americans possess in a pre-eminent 
degree a natural versatility of disposition, and 
adaptability to every description of pursuit or occu- 

The numbers of the different classes forming the 
community were not in the proportion requisite 
to preserve its equilibrium. Transplanting oneself 
to California from any part of the world, involved 
an outlay beyond the means of the bulk of the 
labouring classes ; and to those who did come to 
the country, the mines were of course the great 
point of attraction ; so that in San Francisco the 



numbers of the labouring and of the working 
classes generally, were not nearly equal to the 
demand. The consequence was that labourers' and 
mechanics 7 wages were ridiculously high ; and, as a 
general thing, the lower the description of labour, or of 
service, required, the more extravagant in proportion 
were the wages paid. Sailors' wages were two and 
three hundred dollars per month, and there were 
hundreds of ships lying idle in the bay for want of 
crews to man them even at these rates. Every ship, 
on her arrival, was immediately deserted by all 
hands ; for, of all people, sailors were the most unre- 
strainable in their determination to go to the dig- 
gings ; and it was there a common saying, of the truth 
of which I saw myself many examples, that sailors, 
niggers, and Dutchmen, were the luckiest men in the 
mines : a very drunken old salt was always par- 
ticularly lucky. 

There was a great overplus of young men of edu- 
cation, who had never dreamed of manual labour, and 
who found that their services in their wonted capaci- 
ties were not required in such a rough-and-ready, 
every-man-for-himself sort of place. Hard work, 
however, was generally better paid than head work, 
and men employed themselves in any way, quite re- 
gardless of preconceived ideas of their own dignity. 
It was one intense scramble for dollars the man 
who got most was the best man how he got them 
had nothing to do with it. No occupation was con- 
sidered at all derogatory, and, in fact, every one was 


too much occupied with his own affairs to trouble 
himself in the smallest degree about his neighbour. 

A man's actions and conduct were totally unre- 
strained by the ordinary conventionalities of civilised 
life, and, so long as he did not interfere with the rights 
of others, he could follow his own course, for good or 
for evil, with the utmost freedom. 

Among so many temptations to err, thrust pro- 
minently in one's way, without any social restraint to 
counteract them, it was not surprising that many 
men were too weak for such a trial, and, to use an 
expressive, though not very elegant phrase, went to 
the devil. The community was composed of isolated 
individuals, each quite regardless of the good opinion 
of his neighbours ; and, the outside pressure of society 
being removed, men assumed their natural shape, 
and showed what they really were, following their 
unchecked impulses and inclinations. The human 
nature of ordinary life appeared in a bald and naked 
state, and the natural bad passions of men, with all 
the vices and depravities of civilisation, were in- 
dulged with the same freedom which characterises 
the life of a wild savage. 

There were, however, bright examples of the con- 
trary. If there was a lavish expenditure in minis- 
tering to vice, there was also munificence in the 
bestowing of charity. Though there were gorgeous 
temples for the worship of mammon, there was a 
sufficiency of schools and churches for every de- 
nomination ; while, under the influence of the con- 


stantly-increasing numbers of virtuous women, the 
standard of morals was steadily improving, and 
society, as it assumed a shape and a form, began to 
assert its claims to respect. 

Although employment, of one sort or another, and 
good pay, were to be had by all who were able and 
willing to work, there was nevertheless a vast amount 
of misery and destitution. Many men had come to 
the country with their expectations raised to an 
unwarrantable pitch, imagining that the mere fact of 
emigration to California would insure them a rapid 
fortune ; but when they came to experience the 
severe competition in every branch of trade, their 
hopes were gradually destroyed by the difficulties of 
the reality. 

Every kind of business, custom, and employment, 
was solicited with an importunity little known in old 
countries, where the course of all such things is in 
so well-worn a channel, that it is not easily diverted. 
But here the field was open, and every one was 
striving for what seemed to be within the reach of 
all a foremost rank in his own sphere. To keep 
one's place in the crowd required an unremitted 
exercise of the same vigour and energy which were 
necessary to obtain it ; and many a man, though 
possessed of qualities which would have enabled him 
to distinguish himself in the quiet routine life of old 
countries, was crowded out of his place by the 
multitude of competitors, whose deficiency of merit 
in other respects was more than counterbalanced by 


an excess of unscrupulous boldness and physical 
energy. A polished education was of little service, 
unless accompanied by an unwonted amount of de- 
mocratic feeling; for the extreme sensitiveness which 
it is otherwise apt to produce, unfitted a man for 
taking part in such a hand-to-hand struggle with his 

Drinking was the great consolation for those who 
had not moral strength to bear up under their dis- 
appointments. Some men gradually obscured their 
intellects by increased habits of drinking, and, equally 
gradually, reached the lowest stage of misery and 
want ; while others went at it with more force, and 
drank themselves into delirium tremens before they 
knew where they were. This is a very common 
disease in California : there is something in the 
climate which superinduces it with less provocation 
than in other countries. 

But, though drunkenness was common enough, the 
number of drunken men one saw was small, con- 
sidering the enormous consumption of liquor. 

The American style of drinking is so different from 
that in fashion in the Old World, and forms such an 
important part of social intercourse, that it certainly 
deserves to be considered one of the peculiar institu- 
tions of the country. 

In England a man reserves his drinking capaci- 
ties to enhance the enjoyment of the great event of 
the day, and to increase the comfortable feeling of 
repletion which he experiences while ruminating over 


it. Dinner divides his day into two separate exist- 
ences, and drinking in the forenoon suggests the idea 
of a man slinking off into out-of-the-way, mysterious 
places, and boozily muddling himself in private with 
quart pots of ale or numerous glasses of brandy-and- 

With Americans, however, the case is very different. 
Dinner with them forms no such comfortable epoch 
in their daily life : it brings not even the hour of rest 
which is allowed to the labouring man but it is one 
of the necessities of human existence, and, as it pre- 
cludes all other occupations for the time being, it is 
despatched as quickly as possible. They do not 
drink during dinner, nor immediately afterwards. 
The most common excuse for declining the invitation 
of a friend to " take a drink/' is "Thank you, Fve just 
dined." They make the voyage through life under a 
full head of steam all the time ; they live more in a 
given time than other people, and naturally have 
recourse to constant stimulants to make up for the 
want of intervals of abandon and repose. The 
necessary amount of food they eat at stated hours, 
but their allowance of stimulants is divided into a 
number of small doses, to be taken at short intervals 
throughout the day. 

So it is that a style of drinking, which would ruin 
a man's character in this or any other country where 
eating and drinking go together, is in the States car- 
ried on publicly and openly. The bars are the most 
favourite resort, being situated in the most frequented 


and conspicuous places ; and here, at all hours of 
the day, men are gulping down fiery mouthfuls of 
brandy or gin, rendered still more pungent by the 
addition of other ingredients, and softened down with 
a little sugar and water. 

No one ever thinks of drinking at a bar alone : he 
looks round for some friend whom he can ask to join 
him ; it is not etiquette to refuse, and it is expected 
that the civility will be returned : so that the system 
gives the idea of being a mere interchange of compli- 
ments ; and many men, in submitting to it, are 
actuated chiefly by a desire to show a due amount 
of courtesy to their friends. 

In San Francisco, where the ordinary rate of exist- 
ence was even faster than in the Atlantic States, men 
required an extra amount of stimulant to keep it up, 
and this fashion of drinking was carried to excess. 
The saloons were crowded from early morning till 
late at night ; and in each, two or three bar-keepers 
were kept unceasingly at work, mixing drinks for 
expectant groups of customers. They had no time 
even to sell cigars, which were most frequently dis- 
pensed at a miniature tobacconist's shop in another 
part of the saloon. 

Among the proprietors of saloons, or bars, the 
competition was so great, that, from having, as is 
usual, merely a plate of crackers and cheese on the 
counter, they got the length of laying out, for several 
hours in the forenoon, and again in the evening, a 
table, covered with a most sumptuous lunch of soups, 


cold meats, fish, and so on, with two or three 
waiters to attend to it. This was all free there was 
nothing to pay for it : it was only expected that no 
one would partake of the good things without taking 
a "drink" afterwards. 

This sort of thing is common enough in New 
Orleans ; but in a place like San Francisco, where the 
plainest dinner any man could eat cost a dollar, it 
did seem strange that such goodly fare should be pro- 
vided gratuitously for all and sundry. It showed, 
however, what immense profits were made at the bars 
to allow of such an outlay, and gave an idea of the 
rivalry which existed even in that line of business. 

Another part of the economy of the American bar 
is an instance of the confidence placed in the discre- 
tion of the public namely, the mode of dispensing 
liquors. When you ask for brandy, the bar-keeper 
hands you a tumbler and a decanter of brandy, and 
you help yourself to as much as you please : the 
price is all the same ; it does not matter what or how 
big a dose one takes : and in the case of cocktails, and 
such drinks as the bar-keeper mixes, you tell him to 
make it as light, or stiff, as you wish. This is the 
custom even at the very lowest class of grogshops. 
They have a story in the States connected with this, 
so awfully old that I am almost ashamed to repeat it. 
I have heard it told a thousand times, and always 
located in the bar of the Astor House in New York ; 
so we may suppose it to have happened there. 

A man came up to the bar, and asking for brandy, 
was handed a decanter of brandy accordingly. Fill- 


ing a tumbler nearly full, he drank it off, and, laying 
his shilling on the counter, was walking away, when 
the bar-keeper called after him, " Saay, stranger ! 
you've forgot your change there's sixpence." " No," 
he said, " I only gave you a shilling ; is not it a shil- 
ling a drink V 3 " Yes," said the bar-keeper ; " selling 
it retail we charge a shilling, but a fellow like you 
taking it wholesale we only charge sixpence." 

The American bar-keeper is quite an institution of 
himself. He is a superior class of man to those en- 
gaged in a similar capacity in this country, and has 
no counterpart here. In fact, bar-keeping is a profes- 
sion, in which individuals rise to eminence, and be- 
come celebrated for their cocktails, and for their ad- 
dress in serving customers. The rapidity and dex- 
terity with which they mix half-a-dozen different 
kinds of drinks all at once is perfectly wonderful ; 
one sees nothing but a confusion of bottles and 
tumblers and cascades of fluids as he pours them 
from glass to glass at arm's length for the better 
amalgamation of the ingredients ; and in the time it 
would take an ordinary man to pour out a glass of 
wine, the mixtures are ready, each prepared as accu- 
rately as an apothecary makes up a prescription. 

The bar-keepers in San Francisco exercised their 
ingenuity in devising new drinks to suit the popular 
taste. The most simple and the best that I know of 
is a champagne cocktail, which is very easily made 
by putting a few drops of bitters in a tumbler and 
filling it up with champagne. 

The immigration of Frenchmen had been so large 


that some parts of the city were completely French in 
appearance ; the sEops, restaurants, and estaminets, 
being painted according to French taste, and exhibit- 
ing ^French signs, the very letters of which had a 
French look about them. The names of some of the 
restaurants were rather ambitious as the Trois 
Freres, the Cafe de Paris, and suchlike ; but these 
were second and third-rate places; those which courted 
the patronage of the upper classes of all nations, 
assumed names more calculated to tickle the Ame- 
rican ear, such as the Jackson House and the Lafay- 
ette. They were presided over by elegantly dressed 
dames du comptoir, and all the arrangements were in 
Parisian style. 

The principal American houses were equally good ; 
and there was also an abundance of places where those 
who delighted in corn-bread, buckwheat cakes, pickles, 
grease, molasses, apple-sauce, and pumpkin pie, could 
gratify their taste to the fullest extent. 

There was nothing particularly English about any 
of the eating-houses ; but there were numbers of 
second-rate English drinking-shops, where John Bull 
could smoke his pipe and swig his ale coolly and 
calmly, without having to gulp it down and move off 
to make way for others, as at the bars of the Ameri- 
can saloons. 

The Germans too had their lager bier cellars, but 
the noise and smoke which came up from them was 
enough to deter any one but a German from ventur- 
ing in. 


There was also a Mexican quarter of the town, 
where there were greasy-looking Mexican fondas, and 
crowds of lazy Mexicans lying about, wrapped up in 
their blankets, smoking cigaritas. 

In another quarter the Chinese most did congre- 
gate. Here the majority of the houses were of 
Chinese importation, and were stores, stocked with 
hams, tea, dried fish, dried ducks, and other very 
nasty-looking Chinese eatables, besides copper-pots 
and kettles, fans, shawls, chessmen, and all sorts of 
curiosities. Suspended over the doors were bril- 
liantly-coloured boards, about the size and shape of a 
head-board over a grave, covered with Chinese cha- 
racters, and with several yards of red ribbon stream- 
ing from them ; while the streets were thronged 
with long-tailed Celestials, chattering vociferously as 
they rushed about from store to store, or standing in 
groups studying the Chinese bills posted up in the 
shop windows, which may have been play-bills, for 
there was a Chinese theatre, or perhaps advertise- 
ments informing the public where the best rat-pies 
were to be had. A peculiarly nasty smell pervaded 
this locality, and it was generally believed that rats 
were not so numerous here as elsewhere. 

Owing to the great scarcity of washerwomen, 
Chinese energy had ample room to display itself in 
the washing and ironing business. Throughout the 
town might be seen occasionally over some small 
house a large American sign, intimating that Ching 
Sing, Wong Choo, or Ki-chong did washing and iron- 


ing at five dollars a-dozen. Inside these places one 
found two or three Chinamen ironing shirts with 
large flat-bottomed copper pots full of burning char- 
coal, and, buried in heaps of dirty clothes, half-a-dozen 
more, smoking, and drinking tea. 

The Chinese tried to keep pace with the rest of the 
world. They had their theatre and their gambling 
rooms, the latter being small dirty places, badly 
lighted with Chinese paper lamps. They played a 
peculiar game. The dealer placed on the table several 
handfuls of small copper coins, with square holes 
in them. Bets were made by placing the stake on 
one of four divisions, marked in the middle of the 
table, and the dealer, drawing the coins away from 
the heap, four at a time, the bets were decided accord- 
ing to whether one, two, three, or four remained at 
the last. They are great gamblers, and, when their 
last dollar is gone, will stake anything they possess : 
numbers of watches, rings, and such articles, were 
always lying in pawn on the table. 

The Chinese theatre was a curious pagoda-looking 
edifice, built by them expressly for theatrical purposes, 
and painted, outside and in, in an extraordinary man- 
ner. The performances went on day and night, with- 
out intermission, and consisted principally of juggling 
and feats of dexterity. The most exciting part of the 
exhibition was when one man, and decidedly a man 
of some little nerve, made a spread eagle of himself 
and stood up against a door, while half-a-dozen others, 
at a distance of fifteen or twenty feet, pelted the door 


with sharp-pointed bowie-knives, putting a knife into 
every square inch of the door, but never touching the 
man. It was very pleasant to see, from the unflinch- 
ing way in which the fellow stood it out, the confi- 
dence he placed in the infallibility of his brethren. 
They had also short dramatic performances, which 
were quite unintelligible to outside barbarians. The 
only point of interest about them was the extraordi- 
nary gorgeous dresses of the actors ; but the incessant 
noise they made with gongs and kettle-drums was so 
discordant and deafening, that a few minutes at a 
time was as long as any one could stay in the place. 

There were several very good American theatres, 
a French theatre, and an Italian opera, besides con- 
certs, masquerades, a circus, and other public amuse- 
ments. The most curious were certainly the masquer- 
ades. They were generally given in one of the large 
gambling saloons, and in the placards announcing 
that they were to come off, appeared conspicuously 
also the intimation of " No weapons admitted ;" " A 
strong police will be in attendance." The com- 
pany was just such as might be seen in any gambling- 
room ; and, beyond the presence of half-a-dozen masks 
in female attire, there was nothing to carry out the 
idea of a ball or a masquerade at all ; but it was worth 
while to go, if only to watch the company arrive, and 
to see the practical enforcement of the weapon clause 
in the announcements. Several doorkeepers were in 
attendance, to whom each man as he entered delivered 
up his knife or his pistol, receiving a check for it, 


just as one does for his cane or umbrella at the door 
of a picture-gallery. Most men drew a pistol from 
behind their back, and very often a knife along with 
it ; some carried their bowie-knife down the back of 
their neck, or in their breast ; demure, pious-looking 
men, in white neckcloths, lifted up the bottom of 
their waistcoat, and revealed the butt of a revolver ; 
others, after having already disgorged a pistol, pulled 
up the leg of their trousers, and abstracted a huge 
bowie-knife from their boot ; and there were men, 
terrible fellows, no doubt, but who were more likely 
to frighten themselves than any one else, who pro- 
duced a revolver from each trouser-pocket, and a 
bowie-knife from their belt. If any man declared 
that he had no weapon, the statement was so in- 
credible that he had to submit to be searched ; an 
operation which was performed by the doorkeepers, 
who, I observed, were occasionally rewarded for their 
diligence by the discovery of a pistol secreted in some 
unusual part of the dress. 

Some of the shops were very magnificently got up, 
and would not have been amiss in Eegent Street. 
The watchmakers' and jewellers' shops especially were 
very numerous, and made a great display of immense 
gold watches, enormous gold rings and chains, with 
gold-headed canes, and diamond pins and brooches of 
a most formidable size. With numbers of men, who 
found themselves possessed of an amount of money 
which they had never before dreamed of, and which 
they had no idea what to do with, the purchase of 


gold watches and diamond pins was a very favourite 
mode of getting rid of their spare cash. Labouring 
men fastened their coarse dirty shirts with a cluster 
of diamonds the size of a shilling, wore colossal gold 
rings on their ringers, and displayed a massive gold 
chain and seals from their watch-pocket ; while hardly 
a man of any consequence returned to the Atlantic 
States, without receiving from some one of his friends 
a huge gold-headed cane, with all his virtues and 
good qualities engraved upon it. 

A large business was also done in Chinese shawls, 
and various Chinese curiosities. It was greatly the 
fashion for men, returning home, to take with 
them a quantity of such articles, as presents for their 
friends. In fact, a gorgeous Chinese shawl seemed to 
be as necessary for the returning Californian, as a 
revolver and bowie-knife for the California emigrant. 
There was one large bazaar in particular, where was 
exhibited such a stock of the costliest shawls, cabinets, 
workboxes, vases, and other articles of Chinese manu- 
facture, with clocks, bronzes, and all sorts of drawing- 
room ornaments, that one would have thought it an 
establishment which could only be supported in a 
city like London or Paris. 

Some of the streets in the upper part of the city 
presented a very singular appearance. The houses 
had been built before the grade of the different streets 
had been fixed by the corporation, and there were 
places where the streets, having been cut down 
through the hills to their proper level, were nothing 

80 THE 

more than wide trenches, with a perpendicular bank 
on either side, perhaps forty or fifty feet high, and 
on the brink of these stood the houses, to which access 
was gained by ladders and temporary wooden stairs, 
the unfortunate proprietor being obliged to go to the 
expense of grading his own lot, and so bringing him- 
self down to a level with the rest of the world. In 
other places, where the street crossed a deep hollow, 
it formed a high embankment, with a row of houses 
at the foot of it, some nearly buried, and others 
already raised to the level of the street, resting on a 
sort of scaffolding, while the foundation was being 
filled in under them. 

The soil was so sandy that the hills were easily 
cut down, and for this purpose a contrivance was 
used called a Steam Paddy, which did immense exe- 
cution. It was worked by steam, and was somewhat 
on the principle of a dredging-machine, but with only 
one large bucket, which cut down about two tons of 
earth at a time, and emptied itself into a truck placed 
alongside. From the spot where the Paddy was thus 
walking into the hills a railway was laid, extending 
to the shore, and trains of cars were continually 
rattling down across the streets, taking the earth to 
fill up those parts of the city which were as yet under 

Two or three years later, in '5 4, when an alteration 
was made in the grade of some of the streets, large 
brick and stone houses were raised several feet, by 
means of a most ingenious application of hydraulic 


pressure. Excavations were made, and under the 
foundation-walls of the houses were inserted a num- 
ber of cylinders about two feet in height, so that the 
building rested entirely on the heads of the pistons. 
The cylinders were all connected by pipes with a 
force-pump, worked by a couple of men, who in this 
way could pump up a five-storey brick building three 
or four inches in the course of the day. As the house 
grew up, props were inserted in case of accidents; and 
when it had been raised as far as the length of 
the pistons would allow, the whole apparatus was 
readjusted, and the operation was repeated till the 
required height was obtained. I went to witness the 
process when it was being applied to a large corner 
brick building, five storeys high, with about sixty 
feet frontage each way. The flagged side- walk was 
being raised along with it ; but there was no interrup- 
tion of the business going on in the premises, or any- 
thing whatever to indicate to the passer-by that the 
ground was growing under his feet. On going down 
under the house, one saw that the building was de- 
tached from the surrounding ground, and rested on a 
number of cylinders ; but the only appearance of work 
being done was by two men quietly working a pump 
amid a ramification of small iron pipes. The appa- 
ratus had of course to be of an immense strength to 
withstand the pressure to which it was subjected, and 
the utmost nicety was required in its adjustment, to 
avoid straining and cracking the walls ; but numbers 
of large buildings were raised most successfully in 
this way without receiving the slightest injury. 



The hackney carriages of San Francisco were in- 
finitely superior to those of any other city in the 
world. One might have supposed that any old cab 
which would hold together would have been good 
enough for such a place ; but, on the contrary, the 
cabs if cabs they could be called were large hand- 
some carriages, lined with silk, and brightly painted 
and polished, drawn by pairs of magnificent horses, in 
harness, which, like the carriages, was loaded with 
silver. They would have passed anywhere for showy 
private equipages, had the drivers only been in livery, 
instead of being fashionably dressed individuals in 
kid gloves. A London cabby would have stared in 
astonishment at an apparition of a stand of such cabs, 
and also at the fares which were charged. One could 
not cross the street in them under five dollars. The 
scale of cab-fares, however, was not out of proportion 
to the extravagance of other ordinary expenses. The 
drivers probably received two or three hundred dol- 
lars a-month (about 700 a-year), and the horses alone 
were worth from a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars 

None of the private carriages came at all near 
the hacks in splendour. They were mostly of the 
American " buggy " character, and were drawn by 
fast-trotting horses. The Americans have a style and 
taste in driving peculiarly their own ; they study 
neither grace nor comfort in their attitudes ; speed is 
the only source of pleasure ; and a " three-minute 
horse" that is to say, one which trots his mile in 


three minutes is the only horse worth driving; while 
anything slower than a "two-forty (2 40') horse" is 
not considered really fast. 

A great many very fine horses had been imported 
from Sydney, but these were chiefly used in drays 
and under the saddle. The buggy horses were all 
American, and had made the journey across the 
plains. The native Californian horses are small, 
with great powers of endurance, but are generally 
not very tractable in harness. 

On the arrival of the fortnightly steamer from 
Panama with the mails from the Atlantic States and 
from Europe, the distribution of letters at the post-office 
occasioned a very singular scene. In the United 
States the system of delivering letters by postmen 
is not carried to the same extent as in this country. 
In San Francisco no such thing existed as a postman ; 
every one had to call at the post-office for his letters. 
The mail usually consisted of several waggon-loads 
of letter-bags ; and on its being received, notice was 
given at the post-office, at what hour the delivery 
would commence, a whole day being frequently re- 
quired to sort the letters, which were then delivered 
from a row of half-a-dozen windows, lettered A to E, 
F to K, and so on through the alphabet. Indepen- 
dently of the immense mercantile correspondence, of 
course every man in the city was anxiously expecting 
letters from home ; and for hours before the appointed 
time for opening the windows, a dense crowd of 
people collected, almost blocking up the two streets 


which gave access to the post-office, and having the 
appearance at a distance of being a mob ; but on com- 
ing up to it, one would find that, though closely packed 
together, the people were all in six strings, twisted 
up and down in all directions, the commencement of 
them being the lucky individuals who had been first 
on the ground, and taken up their position at their 
respective windows, while each new-comer had to fall 
in behind those already waiting. Notwithstanding 
the value of time, and the impatience felt by every 
individual, the most perfect order prevailed : there 
was no such thing as a man attempting to push him- 
self in ahead of those already waiting, nor was there 
the slightest respect of persons ; every new-comer 
quietly took his position, and had to make the best of 
it, with the prospect of waiting for hours before he 
could hope to reach the window. Smoking and 
chewing tobacco were great aids in passing the time, 
and many came provided with books and newspapers, 
which they could read in perfect tranquillity, as there 
was no unnecessary crowding or jostling. The prin- 
ciple of " first come first served" was strictly adhered 
to, and any attempt to infringe the established rule 
would have been promptly put down by the omni- 
potent majority. 

A man's place in the line was his individual pro- 
perty, more or less valuable according to his distance 
from the window, and, like any other piece of pro- 
perty, it was bought and sold, and converted into cash. 
Those who had plenty of dollars to spare, but could 


not afford much time, could buy out some one who had 
already spent several hours in keeping his place. Ten or 
fifteen dollars were frequently paid for a good position, 
and some men went there early, and waited patiently, 
without any expectation of getting letters, but for the 
chance of turning their acquired advantage into cash. 
The post-office clerks got through their work briskly 
enough when once they commenced the delivery, the 
alphabetical system of arrangement enabling them to 
produce the letters immediately on the name being 
given. One was not kept long in suspense, and many 
a poor fellow's face lengthened out into a doleful 
expression of disbelief and disappointment, as, scarcely 
had he uttered his name, when he was promptly 
told there was nothing for him. This was a sentence 
from which there was no appeal, however incredulous 
one might be ; and every man was incredulous ; for 
during the hour or two he had been waiting, he had 
become firmly convinced in his own mind that there 
must be a letter for him ; and it was no satisfaction 
at all to see the clerk, surrounded as he was by thou- 
sands of letters, take only a packet of a dozen or so 
in which to look for it : one would like to have had 
the post-office searched all over, and if without suc- 
cess, would still have thought there was something 
wrong. I was myself upon one occasion deeply im- 
pressed with this spirit of unbelief in the infallibility 
of the post-office oracle, and tried the effect of another 
application the next day, when my perseverance was 
crowned with success. 


There was one window devoted exclusively to the 
use of foreigners, among whom English were not in- 
cluded ; and here a polyglot individual, who would 
have been a useful member of society in the Tower of 
Babel, answered the demands of all European nations, 
and held communication with Chinamen, Sandwich 
Islanders, and all the stray specimens of humanity 
from unknown parts of the earth. 

One reason why men went to little trouble or ex- 
pense in making themselves comfortable in their 
homes, if homes they could be called, was the constant 
danger of fire. 

The city was a mass of wooden and canvass build- 
ings, the very look of which suggested the idea of a 
conflagration. A room was a mere partitioned-off 
place, the walls of which were sometimes only of can- 
vass, though generally of boards, loosely put together, 
and covered with any sort of material which happened 
to be most convenient cotton cloth, printed calico, 
or drugget, frequently papered, as if to render it more 
inflammable. Floors and walls were by no means so 
exclusive as one is accustomed to think them ; they 
were not transparent certainly, but otherwise they 
insured little privacy : a general conversation could 
be very easily carried on by all the dwellers in a 
house, while, at the same time, each of them was en- 
joying the seclusion, such as it was, of his own apart- 
ment. A young lady, who was boarding at one of 
the hotels, very feelingly remarked, that it was a most 
disagreeable place to live in, because, if any gentleman 


was to pop the question to her, the report would be 
audible in every part of the house, and all the other 
inmates would be waiting to hear the answer. 

The cry of fire is dreadful enough anywhere, but to 
any one who lived in San Francisco in those days, it 
must ever be more exciting, and more suggestive of 
disaster and destruction of property, than it can be 
to those who have been all their lives surrounded by 
brick and stone, and insurance companies. 

In other countries, when a fire occurs, and a large 
amount of property is destroyed, the loss falls on a 
company a body without a soul, having no indivi- 
dual identity, and for which no one, save perhaps a 
few of the shareholders, has the slightest sympathy. 
The loss, being sustained by an unknown quantity, as 
it were, is not appreciated ; but in San Francisco no 
such institution as insurance against fire as yet existed. 
To insure a house there, would have been as great a 
risk as to insure a New York steamer two or three 
weeks overdue. By degrees, brick buildings were 
superseding those of wood and pasteboard ; but still, 
for the whole city, destruction by fire, sooner or later, 
was the dreaded and fully-expected doom. When 
such a combustible town once ignited in any one 
spot, the flames, of course, spread so rapidly that 
every part, however distant, stood nearly an equal 
chance of being consumed. The alarm of fire acted 
like the touch of a magician's wand. The vitality of 
the whole city was in an instant arrested, and turned 
from its course. Theatres, saloons, and all public 


places, were emptied as quickly as if the buildings 
themselves were on fire ; the business of the moment, 
whatever it was, was at once abandoned, and the 
streets became filled with people rushing frantically 
in every direction not all towards the fire by any 
means ; few thought it worth while to ask even where 
it was. To know there was fire somewhere was quite 
sufficient, and they made at once for their house or 
their store, or wherever they had any property that 
might be saved ; while, as soon as the alarm was 
given, the engines were heard thundering along the 
streets, amid the ringing of the fire-bells and the 
shouts of the excited crowd. 

The fire-companies, of which several were already 
organised, were on the usual American system vo- 
lunteer companies of citizens, who receive no pay, but 
are exempt from serving on juries, and from some 
other citizens' duties. They have crack fire-companies 
just as we have crack regiments, and of these the fast 
young men of the upper classes are frequently the 
most enthusiastic members. Each company has its 
own officers; but they are all under control of a " chief 
engineer," who is appointed by the city, and who 
directs the general plan of operations at a fire. There 
is great rivalry among the different companies, who 
vie with each other in making their turn-out as hand- 
some as possible. They each have their own uniform, 
but the nature of their duties does not admit of much 
finery in their dress ; red shirts and helmets are the 
principal features in it. Their engines, however, are 


got up in very magnificent style, being most elabo- 
rately painted, all the iron- work shining like polished 
steel, and heavily mounted with brass or silver. They 
are never drawn by horses, but by the firemen them- 
selves. A long double coil of rope is attached to the 
engine, and is paid out as the crowd increases, till the 
engine appears to be tearing and bumping along in 
pursuit of a long narrow mob of men, who run as if 
the very devil himself was after them. 

Their esprit de corps is very strong, and connected 
with the different engine-houses are reading-rooms, 
saloons, and so on, for the use of the members of the 
company, many of these places being in the same style 
of luxurious magnificence as the most fashionable 
hotels. On holidays, and on every possible occasion 
which offers an excuse for so doing, the whole fire 
brigade parade the streets in full dress, each company 
dragging their engine after them, decked out in flags 
and flowers, which are presented to them by their 
lady- admirers, in return for the balls given by the 
firemen for their entertainment. They also have field- 
days, when they all turn out, and in some open part 
of the city have a trial of strength, seeing which can 
throw a stream of water to the greatest height, or 
which can flood the other, by pumping water into each 
other's engines. 

As firemen they are most prompt and efficient, per- 
forming their perilous duties with the greatest zeal 
and intrepidity as might, indeed, be expected of men 
who undertake such a service for no hope of reward, 


but for their own love of the danger and excitement 
attending upon it, actuated, at the same time, by a 
chivalrous desire to save either life or property, in 
trying to accomplish which they gallantly risk, and 
frequently lose, their own lives. This feeling is kept 
alive by the readiness with which the public pay 
honour to any individual who conspicuously distin- 
guishes himself generally by presenting him with a 
gold or silver speaking-trumpet (that article being in 
the States as much the badge of office of a captain of 
a fire-company as with us of a captain of a man-of- 
war), while any fireman who is killed in discharge of 
his duties is buried with all pomp and ceremony by 
the whole fire-brigade. 

Two miles above San Francisco, on the shore of 
the bay, is the Mission Dolores, one of those which 
were established in different parts of the country by 
the Spaniards. It was a very small village of a few 
adobe houses and a church, adjoining which stood a 
large building, the abode of the priests. The land 
in the neighbourhood is flat and fertile, and was 
being rapidly converted into market -gardens ; but 
the village itself was as yet but little changed. It 
had a look of antiquity and completeness, as if it had 
been finished long ago, and as if nothing more was 
ever likely to be done to it. As is the case with all 
Spanish American towns, the very style of the archi- 
ture communicated an oppressive feeling of stillness, 
and its gloomy solitude was only relieved by a 


few listless unoccupied-looking Mexicans and native 

The contrast to San Francisco was so great, that 
on coming out here one could almost think that the 
noisy city he had left but half an hour before had 
existence only in his imagination ; for San Francisco 
presented a picture of universal human nature boil- 
ing over, while here was nothing but human stag- 
nation a more violent extreme than would have been 
the wilderness as yet untrodden by man. Being 
but a slightly reduced counterpart of what San 
Francisco was a year or two before, it offered a good 
point of view from which to contemplate the mira- 
culous growth of that city, still not only increasing 
in extent, but improving in beauty and in excellence 
in all its parts, and progressing so rapidly that, 
almost from day to day, one could mark its steady 
advancement in everything which denotes the pre- 
sence of a wealthy and prosperous community. 

The " Mission/' however, was not suffered to remain 
long in a state of torpor. A plank road was built 
to it from San Francisco. Numbers of villas sprang 
up around it, and good hotels, a race-course, and 
other attractions soon made it the favourite resort for 
all who sought an hour's relief from the excitement 
of the city. 

At the very head of the bay, some sixty miles 
from San Francisco, is the town of San Jose, situated 
in an extensive and most fertile valley, which was 


all being brought under cultivation, and where some 
farmers had already made large fortunes by their 
onions and potatoes, for the growth of which the soil 
is peculiarly adapted. San Jose was the head- 
quarters of the native Californians, many of whom 
were wealthy men, at least in so far as they owned 
immense estates and thousands of wild cattle. They 
did not " hold their own," however, with the more 
enterprising people who were now effecting such a 
complete revolution in the country. Their property 
became a thousandfold more valuable, and they had 
every chance to benefit by the new order of things ; 
but men who had passed their lives in that sparsely 
populated and secluded part of the world, directing 
a few half- savage Indians in herding wild cattle, 
were not exactly calculated to foresee, or to specu- 
late upon, the effects of an overwhelming influx of 
men so different in all respects from themselves ; 
and even when occasions of enriching themselves 
were forced upon them, they were ignorant of their 
own advantages, and were inferior in smartness to 
the men with whom they had to deal. Still, al- 
though too slow to keep up with the pace at which 
the country was now going ahead, many of them 
were, nevertheless, men of considerable sagacity, and 
appeared to no disadvantage as members of the 
legislature, to which they were returned from parts 
of the State remote from the mines, and where as 
yet there were few American settlers. 

San Jose was quite out of the way of gold-hunters, 


and there was consequently about the place a good 
deal of the California of other days. It was at 
that time, however, the seat of government ; and, 
consequently, a large number of Americans were 
here assembled, and gave some life to the town, which 
had also been improved by the addition of several 
new streets of more modern-looking houses than the 
old mud and tile concerns of the native Californians. 
Small steamers plied to within a mile or two of 
the town from San Francisco, and there were also 
four-horse coaches which did the sixty miles in about 
five hours. The drive down the valley of the San 
Jose is in some parts very beautiful. The country 
is smooth and open not so flat as to appear mono- 
tonous and is sufficiently wooded with fine oaks ; 
but towards San Francisco it becomes more hilly 
and bleak. The soil is sandy ; indeed, excepting a few 
spots here and there, it is nothing but sand, and 
there is hardly a tree ten feet high within as many 
miles of the city. 



I REMAINED in San Francisco till the worst of the 
rainy season was over, when I determined to go and 
try my luck in the mines ; so, leaving my valuables 
in charge of a friend in San Francisco, I equipped 
myself in my worst suit of old clothes, and, with my 
blankets slung over my shoulder, I put myself on 
board the steamer for Sacramento. 

As we did not start till five o'clock in the after- 
noon, we had not an opportunity of seeing very much 
of the scenery on the river. As long as daylight 
lasted, we were among smooth grassy hills and valleys, 
with but little brushwood, and only here and there a 
few stunted trees. Some of the valleys are exceed- 


ingly fertile, and all those sufficiently watered to 
render them available for cultivation had already 
been " taken up." 

We soon, however, left the hilly country behind 
us, and came upon the vast plains which extend the 
whole length of California, bounded on one side by 
the range of mountains which runs along the coast, 
and on the other side by the mountains which con- 
stitute the mining districts. Through these plains 
flows the Sacramento river, receiving as tributaries 
all the rivers flowing down from the mountains on 
either side. 

The steamer which was a very fair specimen of 
the usual style of New York river - boat was 
crowded with passengers and merchandise. There 
were not berths for one-half of the people on board ; 
and so, in company with many others, I lay down and 
slept very comfortably on the deck of the saloon till 
about three o'clock in the morning, when we were 
awoke by the noise of letting off the steam on our 
arrival at Sacramento. 

One of not the least striking wonders of California 
was the number of these magnificent river steam- 
boats which, even at that early period of its history, 
had steamed round Cape Horn from New York, and 
now, gliding along the California rivers at the rate 
of twenty-two miles an hour, afforded the same rapid 
and comfortable means of travelling, and sometimes 
at as cheap rates, as when they plied between New 
York and Albany. Every traveller in the United 


States lias described the river steamboats ; suffice 
it to say here, that they lost none of their character- 
istics in California ; and, looking at these long, white, 
narrow, two -storey houses, floating apparently on 
nothing, so little of the hull of the boat appears above 
water, and showing none of the lines which, in a ship, 
convey an idea of buoyancy and power of resistance, 
but, on the contrary, suggesting only the idea of how 
easy it would be to smash them to pieces following 
in imagination these fragile-looking fabrics over the 
seventeen thousand miles of stormy ocean over which 
they had been brought in safety, one could not help 
feeling a degree of admiration and respect for the 
daring and skill of the men by whom such perilous 
undertakings had been accomplished. In preparing 
these steamboats for their long voyage to California, 
the lower storey was strengthened with thick plank- 
ing, and on the forward part of the deck was built a 
strong wedge-shaped screen, to break the force of 
the waves, which might otherwise wash the whole 
house overboard. They crept along the coast, having 
to touch at most of the ports on the way for fuel ; 
and passing through the Straits of Magellan, they 
escaped to a certain extent the dangers of Cape 
Horn, although equal dangers might be encountered 
on any part of the voyage. 

But besides the question of nautical skill and 
individual daring, as a commercial undertaking the 
sending such steamers round to California was a very 
bold speculation. Their value in New York is about 


a hundred thousand dollars, and to take them round 
to San Francisco costs about thirty thousand more. 
Insurance is, of course, out of the question (I do not 
think 99 per cent would insure them in this country 
from Dover to Calais); so the owners had to play a 
neck-or-nothing game. Their enterprise was in most 
cases duly rewarded. I only know of one instance 
though doubtless others have occurred in which such 
vessels did not get round in safety : it was an old 
Long Island Sound boat ; she was rotten before ever 
she left New York, and foundered somewhere about 
the Bermudas, all hands on board escaping in the 

The profits of the first few steamers which arrived 
out were of course enormous ; but, after a while, com- 
petition w r as so keen, that for some time cabin fare 
between San Francisco and Sacramento was only one 
dollar ; a ridiculously small sum to pay, in any part 
of the world, for being carried in such boats two 
hundred miles in ten hours ; but, in California at 
that time, the wages of the common deck hands on 
board those same boats were about a hundred dollars 
a-month ; and ten dollars were there, to the generality 
of men, a sum of much less consequence than ten 
shillings are here. 

These low fares did not last long, however; the 
owners of steamers came to an understanding, and 
the average rate of fare from San Francisco to 
Sacramento was from five to eight dollars. I have 

only alluded to the one-dollar fares for the purpose 



of giving an idea of the competition which existed 
in such a business as " steamboating," which re- 
quires a large capital ; and from that it may be 
imagined what intense rivalry there was among 
those engaged in less important lines of business, 
which engrossed their whole time and labour, and 
required the employment of all the means at their 

Looking at the map of California, it will be seen 
that the " mines " occupy a long strip of mountain- 
ous country, which commences many miles to the 
eastward of San Francisco, and stretches northward 
several hundred miles. The Sacramento river run- 
ning parallel with the mines, the San Joaquin joining 
it from the southward and eastward, and the Feather 
river continuing a northward course from the Sacra- 
mento all of them being navigable present the 
natural means of communication between San Fran- 
cisco and the " mines." Accordingly, the city of 
Sacramento about two hundred miles north of San 
Francisco sprang up as the depot for all the 
middle part of the mines, with roads radiating from 
it across the plains to the various settlements in the 
mountains. In like manner the city of Marysville, 
being at the extreme northern point of navigation 
of the Feather river, became the starting-place and 
the depot for the mining districts in the northern 
section of the State ; and Stockton, named after 
Commodore Stockton, of the United States navy, 
who had command of the Pacific squadron during 


the Mexican war, being situated at the head of 
navigation of the San Joaqum, forms the interme- 
diate station between San Francisco and all the 
" southern mines. " 

Seeing the facilities that California thus presented 
for inland navigation, it is not surprising that the 
Americans, so pre-eminent as they are in that branch 
of commercial enterprise, should so soon have taken 
advantage of them. But though the prospective 
profits were great, still the enormous risk attending 
the sending of steamboats round the Horn might 
have seemed sufficient to deter most men from 
entering into such a hazardous speculation. It must 
be remembered that many of these river steamboats 
were despatched from New York, on an ocean voyage 
of seventeen thousand miles, to a place of which 
one-half the world as yet even doubted the existence, 
and when people were looking up their atlases to 
see in what part of the world California was. The 
risk of taking a steamboat of this kind to what was 
then such an out-of-the-way part of the world, did 
not end with her arrival in San Francisco by any 
means. The slightest accident to her machinery, 
which there was at that time no possibility of 
repairing in California, or even the extreme fluctua- 
tions in the price of coal, might have rendered her at 
any moment so much useless lumber. 

In ocean navigation the same adventurous energy 
was manifest. Hardly had the news of the discovery 
of gold in California been received in New York, 


when numbers of steamers were despatched, at an 
expense equal to one-half their value, to take their 
place on the Pacific in forming a line between the 
United States and San Francisco via Panama ; so 
that almost from the first commencement of the 
existence of California as a gold-bearing country, 
steam-communication was established between New 
York and San Francisco, bringing the two places 
within twenty to twenty-five days of each other. 
It is true the mail line had the advantage of a mail 
contract from the United States government ; bat 
other lines, without any such fostering influence, ran 
them close in competition for public patronage. 

The Americans are often accused of boasting 
perhaps deservedly so ; but there certainly are many 
things in the history of California of which they may 
justly be proud, having transformed her, as they did 
so suddenly, from a wilderness into a country in 
which most of the luxuries of life were procurable ; 
and a fair instance of the bold and prompt spirit of 
commercial enterprise by which this was accom- 
plished, was seen in the fact that, from the earliest 
days of her settlement, California had as good means 
of both ocean and inland steam-communication as 
any of the oldest countries in the world. 

Sacramento City is next in size and importance to 
San Francisco. Many large commercial houses had 
there established their headquarters, and imported 
direct from the Atlantic States. The river is navigable 
so far by vessels of six or eight hundred tons, and 


in the early days of California, many ships cleared 
directly for Sacramento from the different ports on 
the Atlantic ; but as the course of trade by degrees 
found its proper channel, San Francisco became 
exclusively the emporium for the whole of California, 
and even at the time I write of, sea-going vessels 
were rarely seen so far in the interior of the country 
as Sacramento. 

The plains are but very little above the average 
level of the river, and a "leveV had been built all along 
the front of the city eight or ten feet high, to save it 
from inundation by the high waters of the rainy 
season. With the exception of a few handsome 
blocks of brick buildings, the houses were all of 
wood, and had an unmistakably Yankee appearance, 
being all painted white turned up with green, and 
covered from top to bottom with enormous signs. 

The streets are wide, perfectly straight, and cross 
each other at right angles at equal distances, like 
the lines of latitude and longitude on a chart. The 
street nomenclature is unique very democratic, in- 
asmuch as it does not immortalise the names of pro- 
minent individuals and admirably adapted to such a 
rectangular city. The streets running parallel with 
the river are numbered First, Second, Third Street, 
and so on to infinity, and the cross streets are desig- 
nated by the letters of the alphabet. J Street was 
the great central street, and was nearly a mile long; 
so the reader may reckon the number of parallel 
streets on each side of it, and get an idea of the 

1 02 STAGING. 

extent of the city. This system of lettering and 
numbering the streets was very convenient, as, the 
latitude and longitude of a house being given, it 
could be found at once. A stranger could navigate 
all over the town without ever having to ask his 
way, as he could take an observation for himself at 
the corner of every street. 

My stay in Sacramento on this occasion was 
limited to a few hours. I went to a large hotel, 
which was also the great staging-house, and here 
I snoozed till about five o'clock, when, it being 
still quite dark, the whole house woke up into 
active life. About a hundred of us breakfasted 
by candlelight, and, going out into the bar-room 
while day was just dawning, we found, turned out 
in front of the hotel, about four-and-twenty four- 
horse coaches, all bound for different places in the 
mines. The street was completely blocked up with 
them, and crowds of men were taking their seats, 
while others were fortifying themselves for their 
journey at the bar. 

The coaches were of various kinds. Some were 
light-spring-waggons mere oblong boxes, with four 
or five seats placed across them ; others were of the 
same build, but better finished, and covered by an 
awning'; and there were also numbers of regular 
American stage-coaches, huge high -hung things 
which carry nine inside upon three seats, the middle 
one of which is between the two doors. 

The place which I had intended should be the 


scene of my first mining exploits, was a village 
rejoicing in the suggestive appellation of Han gt own ; 
designated, however, in official documents as Placer- 
ville. It received its name of Hangtown while yet 
in its infancy from the number of malefactors who 
had there expiated their crimes at the hands of Judge 
Lynch. I soon found the stage for that place it 
happened to be one of the oblong boxes and, pitch- 
ing in my roll of blankets, I took my seat and lighted 
my pipe that I might the more fully enjoy the scene 
around me. And a scene it was, such as few parts 
of the world can now show, and which would have 
gladdened the hearts of those who mourn over the 
degeneracy of the present age, and sigh for the good 
old days of stage-coaches. 

Here, certainly, the genuine old mail-coach, the 
guard with his tin horn, and the jolly old coachman 
with his red face, were not to be found ; but the 
horses were as good as ever galloped with her Ma- 
jesty's mail. The teams were all headed the same 
way, and with their stages, four or five abreast, occu- 
pied the whole of the wide street for a distance of 
sixty or seventy yards. The horses were restive, and 
pawing, and snorting, and kicking ; and passengers 
were trying to navigate to their proper stages through 
the labyrinth of wheels and horses, and frequently 
climbing over half-a-dozen waggons to shorten their 
journey. Grooms were standing at the leaders' heads, 
trying to keep them quiet, and the drivers were sit- 
ting on their boxes, or seats rather, for they scorn a 


high seat, and were swearing at each other in a very 
shocking manner, as wheels got locked, and waggons 
were backed into the teams behind them, to the dis- 
comfiture of the passengers on the back-seats, who 
found horses' heads knocking the pipes out of their 
mouths. In the intervals of their little private 
battles, the drivers were shouting to the crowds of 
passengers who loitered about the front of the hotel ; 
for there, as elsewhere, people will wait till the last 
moment ; and though it is more comfortable to sit 
than to stand, men like to enjoy their freedom as long 
as possible, before resigning all control over their 
motions, and charging with their precious persons a 
coach or a train, on full cock, and ready to go off, and 
shoot them out upon some remote part of creation. 

On each waggon was painted the name of the place 
to which it ran ; the drivers were also bellowing it 
out to the crowd, and even among such a confusion 
of coaches a man could have no difficulty in finding 
the one he -wanted. One would have thought that 
the individual will and locomotive power of a man 
would have been sufficient to start him on his journey ; 
but in this go-ahead country, people who had to go 
were not allowed to remain inert till the spirit 
moved them to go ; they had to be " hurried up ;" and 
of the whole crowd of men who were standing about 
the hotel, or struggling through the maze of waggons, 
only one half were passengers, the rest were "runners " 
for the various stages, who were exhausting all their 
persuasive eloquence in entreating the passengers to 



take their seats and go. They were all mixed up 
with the crowd, and each was exerting his lungs to 
the utmost. " Now then, gentlemen/' shouts one of 
them, " all aboard for Nevada City ! Who's agoin \ 
only three seats left the last chance to-day for Ne- 
vada City take you there in five hours. Who's 
there for Nevada City V Then catching sight of 
some man who betrays the very slightest appearance 
of helplessness, or of not knowing what he is about, 
he pounces upon him, saying " Nevada City, sir ? 
this way just in time," and seizing him by the arm, 
he drags him into the crowd of stages, and almost 
has him bundled into that for Nevada City before the 
poor devil can make it understood that it is Caloma 
he wants to go to, and not Nevada City. His captor 
then calls out to some one of his brother runners who 
is collecting passengers for Caloma " Oh Bill ! oh 

Bill ! where the are you 1 " " Hullo !" says Bill 

from the other end of the crowd. " Here's a man for 
Caloma ! " shouts the other, still holding on to his 
prize in case he should escape before Bill comes up to 
take charge of him. 

This sort of thing was going on all the time. It 
was very ridiculous. Apparently, if a hundred men 
wanted to go anywhere, it required a hundred more 
to despatch them. There was certainly no danger 
of any one being left behind ; on the contrary, the 
probability was, that any weak-minded man who hap- 
pened to be passing by, would be shipped off to parts 
unknown before he could collect his ideas. 


There were few opposition stages, excepting for 
Marysville, and one or two of the larger places ; they 
were all crammed full and of what use these " run- 
ners " or " tooters" were to anybody, was not very 
apparent, at least to the uninitiated. But they are a 
common institution with the Americans, who are not 
very likely to support such a corps of men if their 
services bring no return. In fact, it is merely part of 
the American system of advertising, and forcing the 
public to avail themselves of certain opportunities, 
by repeatedly and pertinaciously representing to them 
that they have it in their power to do so. In the 
States, to blow your own horn, and to make as much 
noise as possible with it, is the fundamental principle 
of all business. The most eminent lawyers and doc- 
tors advertise, and the names of the first merchants 
appear in the newspapers every day. A man's own 
personal exertions are not sufficient to keep the world 
aware of his existence, and without advertising he 
would be to all intents and purposes dead. Modest 
merit does not wait for its reward it is rather too 
smart for that it clamours for it, and consequently 
gets it all the sooner. 

However, I was not thinking of this while sitting 
on the Hangtown stage. I had too much to look at ? 
and some of my neighbours also took up my atten- 
tion. I found seated around me a varied assortment 
of human nature. A New-Yorker, a Yankee, and an 
English Jack-tar were my immediate neighbours, 
and a general conversation helped to beguile the time 
till the " runners " had succeeded in placing a pas- 


senger upon every available spot of every waggon. 
There was no trouble about luggage that is an article 
not much known in California. Some stray indi- 
viduals might have had a small carpet-bag almost 
every man had his blankets and the western men 
were further encumbered with their long rifles, the 
barrels poking into everybody's eyes, and the buts in 
the way of everybody's toes. 

At last the solid mass of four-horse coaches began 
to dissolve. The drivers gathered up their reins and 
settled themselves down in their seats, cracked their 
whips, and swore at their horses ; the grooms 
cleared out the best way they could ; the passengers 
shouted and hurraed ; the teams in front set off at 
a gallop ; the rest followed them as soon as they got 
room to start, and chevied them up the street, all in 
a body, for about half a mile, when, as soon as we got 
out of town, we spread out in all directions to every 
point of a semicircle, and in a few minutes I found 
myself one of a small isolated community, with which 
four splendid horses were galloping over the plains 
like mad. No hedges, no ditches, no houses, no road 
in fact it was all a vast open plain, as smooth as a 
calm ocean. We might have been steering by com- 
pass, and it was like going to sea ; for we emerged 
from the city as from a landlocked harbour, and fol- 
lowed our own course over the wide wide world. 
The transition from the confinement of the city to the 
vastness of space was instantaneous ; and our late 
neighbours, rapidly diminishing around us, and get- 
ting hull down on the horizon, might have been 


bound for the uttermost parts of the earth, for all we 
could see that was to stop them. 

To sit behind four horses tearing along a good 
road is delightful at any time, but the mere fact of 
such rapid locomotion formed only a small part of 
the pleasure of our journey. 

The atmosphere was so soft and balmy that it was 
a positive enjoyment to feel it brushing over one's 
face like the finest floss silk. The sky was clear and 
cloudless, the bright sunshine warmed us up to a 
comfortable temperature ; and we were travelling 
over such an expanse of nature that our progress, 
rapid as it was, seemed hardly perceptible, unless 
measured by the fast disappearing chimney tops of 
the city, or by the occasional clumps of trees we left 
behind us. The scene all round us was magnificent, 
and impressed one as much with his own insignifi- 
cance as though he beheld the countries of the earth 
from the summit of a high mountain. 

Out of sight of land at sea one experiences a cer- 
tain feeling of isolation : there is nothing to connect 
one's ideas with the habitable globe but the ship on 
which one stands ; but there is also nothing to carry 
the imagination beyond what one does see, and the 
view is limited to a few miles. But here, we were 
upon an ocean of grass-covered earth, dotted with 
trees, and sparkling in the sunshine with the gor- 
geous hues of the dense patches of wild flowers ; 
while far beyond the horizon of the plains there rose 
mountains beyond mountains, all so distinctly seen 
as to leave no uncertainty as to the shape or the 


relative position of any one of them, and fading 
away in regular gradation till the most distinct, 
though clearly defined, seemed still to be the most 
natural and satisfactory point at which the view 
should terminate. It was as if the circumference of 
the earth had been lifted up to the utmost range of 
vision, and there melted into air. 

Such was the view ahead of us as we travelled 
towards the mines, where wavy outlines of mountains 
appeared one above another, drawing together as 
they vanished, and at last indenting the sky with the 
snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada. On either side of 
us the mountains, appearing above the horizon, were 
hundreds of miles distant, and the view behind us was 
more abruptly terminated by the coast range, which 
lies between the Sacramento river and the Pacific. 

It was the commencement of spring, and at that 
season the plains are seen to advantage. But after a 
few weeks of dry weather the hot sun burns up every 
blade of vegetation, the ground presents a cracked 
surface of hard-baked earth, and the roads are ankle- 
deep in the finest and most penetrating kind of dust, 
which rises in clouds like clouds of smoke, saturating 
one's clothes, and impregnating one's whole system. 

We made a straight course of it across the plains 
for about thirty miles, changing horses occasionally 
at some of the numerous wayside inns, and passing 
numbers of waggons drawn by teams of six or eight 
mules or oxen, and laden with supplies for the mines. 

The ascent from the plains was very gradual, over 
a hilly country, well wooded with oaks and pines. 


Our pace here was not so killing as it had been. 
We had frequently long hills to climb, where all 
hands were obliged to get out and walk ; but we 
made up for the delay by galloping down the descent 
on the other side. 

The road, which, though in some places very nar- 
row, for the most part spread out to two or three times 
the width of an ordinary road, was covered with 
stumps and large rocks ; it was full of deep ruts and 
hollows, and roots of trees spread all over it. 

To any one not used to such roads or to such 
driving, an upset would have seemed inevitable. If 
there was safety in speed, however, we were safe 
enough, and all sense of danger was lost in admira- 
tion of the coolness and dexterity of the driver as he 
circumvented every obstacle, but without going one 
inch farther than necessary out of his way to save us 
from perdition. He went through extraordinary 
bodily contortions, which would have shocked an 
English coachman out of his propriety ; but, at the 
same time, he performed such feats as no one would 
have dared to attempt who had never been used to 
anything worse than an English road. With his 
right foot he managed a break, and, clawing at the 
reins with both hands, he swayed his body from side 
to side to preserve his equilibrium, as now on the 
right pair of wheels, now on the left, he cut the 
" outside edge " round a stump or a rock ; and 
when coming to a spot where he was going to 
execute a difficult manoeuvre on a piece of road 
which slanted violentlv down to one side, he trimmed 


the waggon as one would a small boat in a squall, 
and made us all crowd up to the weather side to 
prevent a capsize. 

When about ten miles from the plains, I first saw 
the actual reality of gold-digging. Four or five 
men were working in a ravine by the roadside, dig- 
ging holes like so many grave-diggers. I then con- 
sidered myself fairly in " the mines," and experienced a 
disagreeable consciousness that we might be passing 
over huge masses of gold, only concealed from us by 
an inch or two of earth. 

As we travelled onwards, we passed at intervals 
numerous parties of miners, and the country assumed 
a more inhabited appearance. Log-cabins and clap- 
board shanties were to be seen among the trees ; and 
occasionally we found about a dozen of such houses 
grouped together by the roadside, and dignified with 
the name of a town. 

For several miles again the country would seem 
to have been deserted. That it had once been a 
busy scene was evident from the uptorn earth in the 
ravines and hollows, and from the numbers of un- 
occupied cabins ; but the cream of such diggings 
had already been taken, and they were not now 
sufficiently rich to suit the ambitious ideas of the 

After travelling about thirty miles over this moun- 
tainous region, ascending gradually all the while, 
we arrived at Hangtown in the afternoon, having 
accomplished the sixty miles from Sacramento city 
in about eight hours. 




THE town of Placerville or Hangtown, as it was 
commonly called consisted of one long straggling 
street of clapboard houses and log cabins, built in a 
hollow at the side of a creek, and surrounded by high 
and steep hills. 

The diggings here had been exceedingly rich men 
used to pick the chunks of gold out of the crevices of 
the rocks in the ravines with no other tool than a 
bowie-knife ; but these days had passed, and now 
the whole surface of the surrounding country showed 
the amount of real hard work which had been done. 
The beds of the numerous ravines which wrinkle the 
faces of the hills, the bed of the creek, and all the 
little flats alongside of it, were a confused mass of 
heaps of dirt and piles of stones lying around the 
innumerable holes, about six feet square and five or 


six feet deep, from which they had been thrown out. 
The original course of the creek was completely obli- 
terated, its waters being distributed into numberless 
little ditches, and from them conducted into the 
"long toms" of the miners through canvass hoses, 
looking like immensely long slimy sea-serpents. 

The number of bare stumps of what had once been 
gigantic pine trees, dotted over the naked hill-sides 
surrounding the town, showed how freely the axe had 
been used, and to what purpose was apparent in the 
extent of the town itself, and in the numerous log- 
cabins scattered over the hills, in situations apparently 
chosen at the caprice of the owners, but in reality 
with a view to be near to their diggings, and at the 
same time to be within a convenient distance of water 
and firewood. 

Along the whole length of the creek, as far as one 
could see, on the banks of the creek, in the ravines, 
in the middle of the principal and only street of the 
town, and even inside some of the houses, were parties 
of miners, numbering from three or four to a dozen, 
all hard at work, some laying into it with picks, some 
shovelling the dirt into the " long toms," or with long- 
handled shovels washing the dirt thrown in, and 
throwing out the stones, while others were working 
pumps or baling water out of the holes with buckets. 
There was a continual noise and clatter, as mud, dirt, 
stones, and water were thrown about in all directions ; 
and the men, dressed in ragged clothes and big boots, 
wielding picks and shovels, and rolling big rocks about, 



were all working as if for their lives, going into it 
with a will, and a degree of energy, not usually seen 
among labouring men. It was altogether a scene 
which conveyed the idea of hard work in the fullest 
sense of the words, and in comparison with which a 
gang of railway navvies would have seemed to be 
merely a party of gentlemen amateurs playing at 
working pour passer le temps. 

A stroll through the village revealed the extent to 
which the ordinary comforts of life were attainable. 
The gambling houses, of which there were three or 
four, were of course the largest and most conspicuous 
buildings ; their mirrors, chandeliers, and other decora- 
tions, suggesting a style of life totally at variance with 
the outward indications of everything around them. 

The street itself was in many places knee-deep in 
mud, and was plentifully strewed with old boots, 
hats, and shirts, old sardine-boxes, empty tins of pre- 
served oysters, empty bottles, worn-out pots and 
kettles, old ham-bones, broken picks and shovels, and 
other rubbish too various to particularise. Here and 
there, in the middle of the street, was a square hole 
about six feet deep, in which one miner was digging, 
while another was baling the water out with a 
bucket, and a third, sitting alongside the heap of dirt 
which had been dug up, was washing it in a rocker. 
Waggons, drawn by six or eight mules or oxen, were 
navigating along the street, or discharging their 
strangely-assorted cargoes at the various stores; and 
men in picturesque rags, with large muddy boots, 


long beards, and brown faces, were the only inhabit- 
ants to be seen. 

There were boarding-houses on the table- d'hdte 
principle, in each of which forty or fifty hungry 
miners sat down three times a-day to an oilcloth- 
covered table, and in the course of about three 
minutes surfeited themselves on salt pork, greasy 
steaks, and pickles. There were also two or three 
" hotels," where much the same sort of fare was to be 
had, with the extra luxuries of a table-cloth and a 
superior quality of knives and forks. 

The stores were curious places. There was no 
specialty about them everything was to be found 
in them which it could be supposed that any one 
could possibly want, excepting fresh beef (there was 
a butcher who monopolised the sale of that article). 

On entering a store, one would find the storekeeper 
in much the same style of costume as the miners, 
very probably sitting on an empty keg at a rickety 
little table, playing "seven up" for "the liquor" with 
one of his customers. 

The counter served also the purpose of a bar, and 
behind it was the usual array of bottles and decanters, 
while on shelves above them was an ornamental dis- 
play of boxes of sardines, and brightly-coloured tins 
of preserved meats and vegetables with showy labels, 
interspersed with bottles of champagne and strangely- 
shaped bottles of exceedingly green pickles, the whole 
being arranged with some degree of taste. 

Goods and provisions of every description were 

116 THE JEWS. 

stowed away promiscuously all round the store, in 
the middle of which was invariably a small table 
with a bench, or some empty boxes and barrels for 
the miners to sit on while they played cards, spent 
their money in brandy and oysters, and occasionally 
got drunk. 

The clothing trade was almost entirely in the hands 
of the Jews, who are very numerous in California, 
and devote their time and energies exclusively to sup- 
plying their Christian brethren with the necessary 
articles of wearing apparel. 

In travelling through the mines from one end to 
the other, I never saw a Jew lift a pick or shovel to 
do a single stroke of work, or, in fact, occupy himself 
in any other way than in selling slops. While men 
of all classes and of every nation showed such versa- 
tility in betaking themselves to whatever business or 
occupation appeared at the time to be most advisable, 
without reference to their antecedents, and in a 
country where no man, to whatever class of society 
he belonged, was in the least degree ashamed to roll 
up his sleeves and dig in the mines for gold, or to 
engage in any other kind of manual labour, it was a 
very remarkable fact that the Jews were the only 
people among whom this was not observable. 

They were very numerous so much so, that the 
business to which they confined themselves could 
hardly have yielded to every individual a fair average 
California rate of remuneration. But they seemed to 
be proof against all temptation to move out of their 


own limited sphere of industry, and of course, con- 
centrated upon one point as their energies were, they 
kept pace with the go-ahead spirit of the times. 
Clothing of all sorts could be bought in any part of 
the mines more cheaply than in San Francisco, where 
rents were so very high that retail prices of every- 
thing were most exorbitant ; and scarcely did twenty 
or thirty miners collect in any out-of-the-way place, 
upon newly discovered diggings, before the inevitable 
Jew slop-seller also made his appearance, to play his 
allotted part in the newly-formed community. 

The Jew slop-shops were generally rattletrap erec- 
tions about the size of a bathing-machine, so small 
that one half of the stock had to be displayed sus- 
pended from projecting sticks outside. They were 
filled with red and blue flannel shirts, thick boots, 
and other articles suited to the wants of the miners, 
along with Colt's revolvers and bowie-knives, brass 
jewellery, and diamonds like young Koh-i-Noors. 

Almost every man, after a short residence in Cali- 
fornia, became changed to a certain extent in his 
outward appearance. In the mines especially, to the 
great majority of men, the usual style of dress was one 
to which they had never been accustomed ; and those 
to whom it might have been supposed such a costume 
was not so strange, or who were even wearing the old 
clothes they had brought with them to the country, 
acquired a certain California air, which would have 
made them remarkable in whatever part of the world 
they came from, had they been suddenly transplanted 


there. But to this rule also the Jews formed a very 
striking exception. In their appearance there was 
nothing whatever at all suggestive of California ; they 
were exactly the same unwashed-looking, slobbery, slip- 
shod individuals that one sees in every seaport town. 

During the week, and especially when the miners 
were all at work, Hangtown was comparatively quiet ; 
but on Sundays it was a very different place. On 
that day the miners living within eight or ten miles 
all flocked in to buy provisions for the week to 
spend their money in the gambling rooms to play 
cards to get their letters from home and to refresh 
themselves, after a week's labour and isolation in the 
mountains, in enjoying the excitement of the scene 
according to their tastes. 

The gamblers on Sundays reaped a rich harvest ; 
their tables were thronged with crowds of miners, 
betting eagerly, and of course losing their money. 
Many men came in, Sunday after Sunday, and 
gambled off all the gold they had dug during the 
week, having to get credit at a store for their next 
week's provisions, and returning to their diggings to 
work for six days in getting more gold, which would 
all be transferred the next Sunday to the gamblers, 
in the vain hope of recovering what had been al- 
ready lost. 

The street was crowded all day with miners loafing 
about from store to store, making their purchases and 
asking each other to drink, the effects of which began 


to be seen at an early hour in the number of drunken 
men, and the consequent frequency of rows and 
quarrels. Almost every man wore a pistol or a 
knife many wore both but they were rarely used. 
The liberal and prompt administration of Lynch law 
had done a great deal towards checking the wanton 
and indiscriminate use of these weapons on any slight 
occasion. The utmost latitude was allowed in the 
exercise of self-defence. In the case of a row, it was 
not necessary to wait till a pistol was actually levelled 
at one's head if a man made even a motion towards 
drawing a weapon, it was considered perfectly justifi- 
able to shoot him first, if possible. The very preva- 
lence of the custom of carrying arms thus in a great 
measure was a cause of their being seldom used. 
They were never drawn out of bravado, for when a 
man once drew his pistol, he had to be prepared to 
use it, and to use it quickly, or he might expect to be 
laid low by a ball from his adversary ; and again, if 
he shot a man without sufficient provocation, he 
was pretty sure of being accommodated with a 
hempen cravat by Judge Lynch. 

The storekeepers did more business on Sundays 
than in all the rest of the week ; and in the af- 
ternoon crowds of miners could be seen dispersing 
over the hills in every direction, laden with the pro- 
visions they had been purchasing, chiefly flour, pork, 
and beans, and perhaps a lump of fresh beef. 

There was only one place of public worship in 


Hangtown at that time, a very neat little wooden 
edifice, which belonged to some denomination of 
Methodists, and seemed to be well attended. 

There was also a newspaper published two or three 
times a-week, which kept the inhabitants "posted 
up" as to what was going on in the world. 

The richest deposits of gold were found in the beds 
and banks of the rivers, creeks, and ravines, in the 
flats on the convex side of the bends of the streams, 
and in many of the flats and hollows high up in the 
mountains. The precious metal was also abstracted 
from the very hearts of the mountains, through 
tunnels drifted into them for several hundred yards ; 
and in some places real mining was carried on in the 
bowels of the earth by means of shafts sunk to the 
depth of a couple of hundred feet. 

The principal diggings in the neighbourhood of 
Hangtown were surface diggings ; but, with the 
exception of river diggings, every kind of mining 
operation was to be seen in full force. 

The gold is found at various depths from the sur- 
face ; but the dirt on the bed-rock is the richest, as 
the gold naturally in time sinks through earth and 
gravel, till it is arrested in its downward progress by 
the solid rock. 

The diggings here were from four to six or seven 
feet deep; the layer of "pay-dirt" being about a 
couple of feet thick on the top of the bed-rock. 

I should mention that " dirt" is the word univer- 
sally used in California to signify the substance dug, 

"LONG TOMS/' 121 

earth, clay, gravel, loose slate, or whatever other name 
might be more appropriate. The miners talk of rich 
dirt and poor dirt, and of " stripping off " so many 
feet of " top dirt" before getting to " pay-dirt," the 
latter meaning dirt with so much gold in it that it 
will pay to dig it up and wash it. 

The apparatus generally used for washing was a 
" long torn," which was nothing more than a wooden 
trough from twelve to twenty-five feet long, and 
about a foot wide. At the lower end it widens con- 
siderably, and the floor of it is there a sheet of iron 
pierced with holes half an inch in diameter, under 
which is placed a flat box a couple of inches deep. 
The long torn is set at a slight inclination over 
the place which is to be worked, and a stream of 
water is kept running through it by means of a hose, 
the mouth of which is inserted in a dam built for the 
purpose high enough up the stream to gain the 
requisite elevation ; and while some of the party 
shovel the dirt into the torn as fast as they can dig 
it up, one man stands at the lower end stirring up 
the dirt as it is washed down, separating the stones 
and throwing them out, while the earth and small 
gravel falls with the water through the sieve into the 
" ripple-box." This box is about five feet long, and 
is crossed by two partitions. It is also placed at an 
inclination, so that the water falling into it keeps the 
dirt loose, allowing the gold and heavy particles to 
settle to the bottom, while all the lighter stuff washes 
over the end of the box along with the water. When 

122 " ROCKERS." 

the day's work is over, the dirt is taken from the 
"ripple-box" and is "washed out" in a "wash-pan," 
a round tin dish, eighteen inches in diameter, with 
shelving sides three or four inches deep. In washing 
out a panful of dirt, it has to be placed in water deep 
enough to cover it over ; the dirt is stirred up with 
the hands, and the gravel thrown out ; the pan is 
then taken in both hands, and by an indescribable 
series of manoeuvres all the dirt is gradually washed 
out of it, leaving nothing but the gold and a small 
quantity of black sand. This black sand is mineral 
(some oxide or other salt of iron), and is so heavy 
that it is not possible to wash it all out ; it has to be 
blown out of the gold afterwards when dry. 

Another mode of washing dirt, but much more 
tedious, and consequently only resorted to wjiere a 
sufficient supply of water for a long torn could not 
be obtained, was by means of an apparatus called a 
" rocker" or " cradle." This was merely a wooden 
cradle, on the top of which was a sieve. The dirt 
was put into this, and a miner, sitting alongside of it, 
rocked the cradle with one hand, while with a dipper 
in the other he kept baling water on to the dirt. 
This acted on the same principle as the " torn," and 
had formerly been the only contrivance in use ; but 
it was now seldom seen, as the long torn effected 
such a saving of time and labour. The latter was 
set immediately over the claim, and the dirt was 
shovelled into it at once, while a rocker had to be set 
alongside of the water, and the dirt was carried to it 


in buckets from the place which was being worked. 
Three men working together with a rocker one dig- 
ging, another carrying the dirt in buckets, and the 
third rocking the cradle would wash on an average a 
hundred bucketfuls of dirt to the man in the course 
of the day. With a "long torn" the dirt was so 
easily washed that parties of six or eight could work 
together to advantage, and four or five hundred 
bucketfuls of dirt a-day to each one of the party was 
a usual day's work. 

I met a San Francisco friend in Hangtown prac- 
tising his profession as a doctor, who very hospitably 
offered me quarters in his cabin, which I gladly 
accepted. The accommodation was not .very luxuri- 
ous, being merely six feet of the floor on which to 
spread my blankets. My host, however, had no 
better bed himself, and indeed it was as much as 
most men cared about. Those who were very par- 
ticular preferred sleeping on a table or a bench 
when they were to be had ; bunks and shelves were 
also much in fashion ; but the difference in comfort 
was a mere matter of imagination, for mattresses 
were not known, and an earthen floor was quite as 
soft as any wooden board. Three or four miners 
were also inmates of the doctor's cabin. They were 
quondam New South Wales squatters, who had been 
mining for several months in a distant part of the 
country, and were now going to work a claim about 
two miles up the creek from Hangtown. As they 
wanted another hand to work their long torn with 


them, I very readily joined their party. For several 
days we worked this place, trudging out to it 
when it was hardly daylight, taking with us our 
dinner, which consisted of beefsteaks and bread, 
and returning to Hangtown about dark ; but the 
claim did not prove rich enough to satisfy us, so we 
abandoned it, and went " prospecting," which means 
looking about for a more likely place. 

A " prospecter" goes out with a pick and shovel, 
and a wash-pan; and to test the richness of a place 
he digs down till he reaches the dirt in which it 
may be expected that the gold will be found ; and 
washing out a panful of this, he can easily calculate, 
from the amount of gold which he finds in it, how 
much could be taken out in a day's work. An old 
miner, looking at the few specks of gold in the 
bottom of his pan, can tell their value within a few 
cents ; calling it a twelve or a twenty cent " pros- 
pect," as it may be. If, on washing out a panful of 
dirt, a mere speck of gold remained, just enough to 
swear by, such dirt was said to have only " the 
colour," and was not worth digging. A twelve -cent 
prospect was considered a pretty good one ; but in 
estimating the probable result of a day's work, 
allowance had to be made for the time and labour 
to be expended in removing top-dirt, and in other- 
wise preparing the claim for being worked. 

To establish one's claim to a piece of ground, all 
that was requisite was to leave upon it a pick or 


shovel, or other mining tool. The extent of ground 
allowed to each individual varied in different dig- 
gings from ten to thirty feet square, and was fixed 
by the miners themselves, who also made their own 
laws, defining the rights and duties of those holding 
claims; and any dispute on such subjects was settled 
by calling together a few of the neighbouring miners, 
who would enforce the due observance of the laws 
of the diggings. After prospecting for two or three 
days, we concluded to take up a claim near a small 
settlement called Middletown, two or three miles 
distant from Hangtown. It was situated by the 
side of a small creek, in a rolling hilly country, and 
consisted of about a dozen cabins, one of which was 
a store supplied with flour, pork, tobacco, and other 

We found near our claim a very comfortable 
cabin, which the owner had deserted, and in which 
we established ourselves. We had plenty of fire- 
wood and water close to us, and being only two 
miles from Hangtown, we kept ourselves well sup- 
plied with fresh beef. We cooked our "dampers" 
in New South Wales fashion, and lived on the fat 
of the land, our bill of fare being beefsteaks, dam- 
per, and tea for breakfast, dinner, and supper. A 
damper is a very good thing, but not commonly 
seen in California, excepting among men from New 
South Wales. A quantity of flour and water, with 
a pinch or two of salt, is worked into a dough, 


and, raking down a good hardwood fire, it is placed 
on the hot ashes, and then smothered in more hot 
ashes to the depth of two or three inches, on the top 
of which is placed a quantity of the still burning 
embers. A very little practice enables one to judge 
from the feel of the crust when it is sufficiently 
cooked. The great advantage of a damper is, that 
it retains a certain amount of moisture, and is as 
good when a week old as when fresh baked. It is 
very solid and heavy, and a little of it goes a great 
way, which of itself is no small recommendation 
when one eats only to live. 

Another sort of bread we very frequently made 
by filling a frying-pan with dough, and sticking it 
up on end to roast before the fire. 

The Americans do not understand dampers. They 
either bake bread, using saleratus to make it rise, or 
else they make flapjacks, which are nothing more 
than pancakes made of flour and water, and are a 
very good substitute for bread when one is in a 
hurry, as they are made in a moment. 

As for our beefsteaks, they could not be beat any- 
where. A piece of an old iron-hoop, twisted into a 
serpentine form and laid on the fire, made a first-rate 
gridiron, on which every man cooked his steak to his 
own taste. In the matter of tea I am afraid we were 
dreadfully extravagant, throwing it into the pot in 
handfuls. It is a favourite beverage in the mines 
morning, noon, and night and at no time is it more 
refreshing than in the extreme heat of mid-day. 


In the cabin two bunks had been fitted up, one 
above the other, made of clapboards laid crossways, 
but they were all loose and warped. I tried to sleep 
on them one night, but it was like sleeping on a 
gridiron ; the smooth earthen floor was a much 
more easy couch. 



WITHIN a few miles of us there was camped a large 
tribe of Indians, who were generally quite peaceable, 
and showed no hostility to the whites. 

Small parties of them were constantly to be seen 
in Hangtown, wandering listlessly about the street, 
begging for bread, meat, or old clothes. These 
Digger Indians, as they are called, from the fact of 
their digging for themselves a sort of subterranean 
abode in which they pass the winter, are most 
repulsive-looking wretches, and seem to be very 
little less degraded and uncivilisable than the blacks 
of New South Wales. 

They are nearly black, and are exceedingly ugly, 
with long hair, which they cut straight across the 
forehead just above the eyes. They had learned the 
value of gold, and might be seen occasionally in 


unfrequented places washing out a panful of dirt, 
but they had no idea of systematic work. What 
little gold they got, they spent in buying fresh beef 
and clothes. They dress very fantastically. Some, 
with no other garment than an old dress-coat but- 
toned up to the throat, or perhaps with only a hat 
and a pair of boots, think themselves very well got 
up, and look with great contempt on their neigh- 
bours whose wardrobe is not so extensive. A coat 
with showy linings to the sleeves is a great prize ; it 
is worn inside out to produce a better effect, and 
pantaloons are frequently worn, or rather carried, 
with the legs tied round the waist. They seem to 
think it impossible to have too much of a good 
thing; and any man so fortunate as to be the pos- 
sessor of duplicates of any article of clothing, puts 
them on one over the other, piling hat upon hat 
after the manner of " Old clo." 

The men are very tenacious of their dignity, and 
carry nothing but their bows and arrows, while the 
attendant squaws are loaded down with a large creel 
on their back, which is supported by a band passing 
across the forehead, and is the receptacle for all the 
rubbish they pick up. The squaws have also, of course, 
to carry the babies ; which, however, are not very 
troublesome, as they are wrapped up in papooses like 
those of the North American Indians, though of 
infinitely inferior workmanship. 

They are very fond of dogs, and have always at 
their heels a number of the most wretchedly thin, 


mangy, starved-looking curs, of a dirty brindled 
colour, something the shape of a greyhound, but only 
about half his size. A strong mutual attachment 
exists between the dogs and their masters ; but the 
affection of the latter does not move them to bestow 
much food on their canine friends, who live in a state 
of chronic starvation ; every bone seems ready to 
break through the confinement of the skin, and their 
whole life is merely a slow death from inanition. 
They have none of the life or spirit of other dogs, 
bat crawl along as if every step was to be their last, 
with a look of most humble resignation, and so con- 
scious of their degradation that they never presume 
to hold any communion with their civilised fellow- 
creatures. It is very likely that canine nature can- 
not stand such food as the Indians are content to live 
upon, and of which acorns and grasshoppers are the 
staple articles. There are plenty of small animals on 
which one would think that a dog could live very 
well, if he would only take the trouble to catch them ; 
but it would seem that a dog, as long as he remains 
a companion of man, is an animal quite incapable of 
providing for himself. 

A failure of the acorn crop is to the Indians a 
national calamity, as they depend on it in a great 
measure for their subsistence during the winter. In 
the fall of the year the squaws are all busily employed 
in gathering acorns, to be afterwards stored in small 
conical stacks, and covered with a sort of wicker- 
work. They are prepared for food by being made 


into a paste, very much of the colour and consist- 
ency of opium. Such horrid-looking stuff it is, that 
I never ventured to taste it ; but I believe that 
the bitter and astringent taste of the raw material 
is in no way modified by the process of manufacture. 

As is the case with most savages, the digger Indians 
show remarkable instances of ingenuity in some of 
their contrivances, and great skill in the manufacture 
of their weapons. Their bows and arrows are very- 
good specimens of workmanship. The former are 
shorter than the bows used in this country, but re- 
semble them in every other particular, even in the 
shape of the pieces of horn at the ends. The head of 
the arrow is of the orthodox cut, the three feathers 
being placed in the usual position ; the point, how- 
ever, is the most elaborate part. About three inches 
of the end is of a heavier wood than the rest of the 
arrow, being very neatly spliced on with thin tendons. 
The point itself is a piece of Hint chipped down into 
a flat diamond shape, about the size of a diamond on 
a playing-card ; the edges are very sharp, and are 
notched to receive the tendons with which it is firmly 
secured to the arrow. 

The women make a kind of wicker-work basket of 
a conical form, so closely woven as to be perfectly 
water-tight, and in these they have an ingenious 
method of boiling water, by heating a number of 
stones in the fire, and throwing a succession of them 
into the water till the temperature is raised to boiling 

132 A SQUAW. 

We had a visit at our cabin one Sunday from an 
Indian and his squaw. She was such a particularly 
ugly specimen of human nature, that I made her sit 
down, and proceeded to take a sketch of her, to the 
great delight of her dutiful husband, who looked over 
my shoulder and reported progress to her. I offered 
her the sketch when I had finished, but after 
admiring herself in the bottom of a new tin pannikin, 
the only substitute for a looking-glass which I could 
find, and comparing her own beautiful face with her 
portrait, she was by no means pleased, and would 
have nothing to do with it. I suppose she thought I 
had not done her justice ; which was very likely, for 
no doubt our ideas of female beauty must have 
differed very materially. 

Not many days after we had settled ourselves at 
Middletown, news was brought into Hangtown that 
a white man had been killed by Indians at a place 
called Johnson's Eanch, about twelve miles distant. 
A party of three or four men immediately went out 
to recover the body, and to "hunt" the Indians. 
They found the half-burned remains of the murdered 
man ; but were attacked by a large number of 
Indians, and had to retire, one of the party being 
wounded by an Indian arrow. On their return to 
Hangtown there was great excitement ; about thirty 
men, mostly from the Western States, turned out 
with their long rifles, intending, in the first place, to 
visit the camp of the Middletown tribe, and to take 
from them their rifles, which they were reported to 


have bought from the storekeeper there, and after 
that to lynch the storekeeper himself for selling arms 
to the Indians, which is against the law ; for how- 
ever friendly the Indians may be, they trade them off 
to hostile tribes. 

It happened, however, that on this particular day 
a neighbouring tribe had come over to the camp of 
the Middletown Indians for the purpose of having a 
fandango together ; and when they saw this armed 
party coming upon them, they immediately saluted 
them with a shower of arrows and rifle-balls, which 
damaged a good many hats and shirts, without 
wounding any one. The miners returned their fire, 
killing a few of the Indians ; but their party being too 
small to fight against such odds, they were compelled 
to retreat ; and as the storekeeper, having got a hint 
of their kind intentions towards him, had made him- 
self scarce, they marched back to Hangtown with- 
out having done much to boast of. 

When the result of their expedition was made 
known, the excitement in Hangtown was of course 
greater than ever. The next day crowds of miners 
flocked in from all quarters, each man equipped with 
a long rifle in addition to his bowie-knife and revolver, 
while two men, playing a drum and a fife, marched up 
and down the street to give a military air to the 
occasion. A public meeting was held in one of the 
gambling rooms, at which the governor, the sheriff of 
the county, and other big men of the place, were pre- 
sent. The miners about Hangtown were mostly all 


Americans, and a large proportion of them were men 
from the Western States, who had come by the over- 
land route across the plains men who had all their 
lives been used to Indian wiles and treachery, and 
thought about as much of shooting an Indian as of 
killing a rattlesnake. They were a rough-looking 
crowd ; long, gaunt, wiry men, dressed in the usual 
old-flannel-shirt costume of the mines, with shaggy 
beards, their faces, hands, and arms, as brown as 
mahogany, and with an expression about their eyes 
which boded no good to any Indian who should 
come within range of their rifles. 

There were some very good speeches made at the 
meeting ; that of a young Kentuckian doctor was 
quite a treat. He spoke very well, but from the 
fuss he made it might have been supposed that the 
whole country was in the hands of the enemy. The 
eyes of the thirty States of the Union, he said, were 
upon them ; and it was for them, the thirty-first, to 
avenge this insult to the Anglo-Saxon race, and to 
show the wily savage that the American nation, 
which could dictate terms of peace or war to every 
other nation on the face of the globe, was not to 
be trifled with. He tried to rouse their courage, 
and excite their animosity against the Indians, 
though it was quite unnecessary, by drawing a 
vivid picture of the unburied bones of poor Brown, 
or Jones, the unfortunate individual who had been 
murdered, bleaching the mountains of the Sierra 
Nevada, while his death was still unavenged. If 


they were cowardly enough not to go out and whip 
the savage Indians, their wives would spurn them, 
their sweethearts would reject them, and the whole 
world would look upon them with scorn. The most 
common-sense argument in his speech, however, was, 
that unless the Indians were taught a lesson, there 
would be no safety for the straggling miners in the 
mountains at any distance from a settlement. Al- 
together he spoke very well, considering the sort of 
crowd he was addressing ; and judging from the 
enthusiastic applause, and from the remarks I heard 
made by the men around me, he could not have 
spoken with better effect. 

The Governor also made a short speech, saying that 
he would take the responsibility of raising a company 
of one hundred men, at five dollars a-day, to go and 
whip the Indians. 

The Sheriff followed. He "collated" to raise out 
of that crowd one hundred men, but wanted no man 
to put down his name who would not stand up in his 
boots, and he would ask no man to go any further 
than he would go himself. 

Those who wished to enlist were then told to come 
round to the other end of the room, when nearly the 
whole crowd rushed eagerly forward, and the required 
number were at once enrolled. They started the 
next day, but the Indians retreating before them, 
they followed them far up into the mountains, 
where they remained for a couple of months, by 
which time the wily savages, it is to be hoped, got 


properly whipped, and were taught the respect due to 
white men. 

We continued working our claim at Middletown, 
having taken into partnership an old sea-captain 
whom we found there working alone. It paid us 
very well for about three weeks, when, from the con- 
tinued dry weather, the water began to fail, and we 
were obliged to think of moving off to other dig- 

It was now time to commence preparatory opera- 
tions before working the beds of the creeks and rivers, 
as their waters were falling rapidly ; and as most of 
our party owned shares in claims on different rivers, 
we became dispersed. A young Englishman and my- 
self alone remained, uncertain as yet where we should 

We had gone into Hangtown one night for provi- 
sions, when we heard that a great strike had been made 
at a place called Coon Hollow, about a mile distant. 
One man was reported to have taken out that day 
about fifteen hundred dollars. Before daylight next 
morning we started over the hill, intending to stake 
off a claim on the same ground ; but even by the time 
we got there, the whole hillside was already pegged 
off into claims of thirty feet square, on each of which 
men were commencing to sink shafts, while hundreds 
of others were prowling about, too late to get a claim 
which would be thought worth taking up. 

Those who had claims, immediately surrounding 
that of the lucky man who had caused all the excite- 


ment by letting his good fortune be known, were very 
sanguine. Two Cornish miners had got what was 
supposed to be the most likely claim, and declared 
they would not take ten thousand dollars for it. Of 
course, no one thought of offering such a sum ; but 
so great was the excitement that they might have 
got eight hundred or a thousand dollars for their 
claim before ever they put a pick in the ground. 
As it turned out, however, they spent a month in 
sinking a shaft about a hundred feet deep ; and after 
drifting all round, they could not get a cent out of 
it, while many of the claims adjacent to theirs proved 
extremely rich. 

Such diggings as these are called " coyote" dig- 
gings, receiving their name from an animal called the 
" coyote," which abounds all over the plain lands 
of Mexico and California, and which lives in the 
cracks and crevices made in the plains by the ex- 
treme heat of summer. He is half dog, half fox, 
and, as an Irishman might say, half wolf also. They 
howl most dismally, just like a dog, on moonlight 
nights, and are seen in great numbers skulking about 
the plains. 

Connected with them is a curious fact in natural 
history. They are intensely carnivorous so are 
cannibals ; but as cannibals object to the flavour 
of roasted sailor as being too salt, so coyotes turn 
up their noses at dead Mexicans as being too pep- 
pery. I have heard the fact mentioned over and 
over again, by Americans who had been in the Mexi- 


can war, that on going over the field after their 
battles, they found their own comrades with the 
flesh eaten off their bones by the coyotes, while 
never a Mexican corpse had been touched ; and the 
only and most natural way to account for this pheno- 
menon was in the fact that the Mexicans, by the con- 
stant and inordinate eating of the hot pepper-pod, the 
Chili Colorado, had so impregnated their system with 
pepper as to render their flesh too savoury a morsel 
for the natural and unvitiated taste of the coyotes. 

These coyote diggings require to be very rich to 
pay, from the great amount of labour necessary before 
any pay-dirt can be obtained. They are generally 
worked by only two men. A shaft is sunk, over 
which is rigged a rude windlass, tended by one man, 
who draws up the dirt in a large bucket while his 
partner is digging down below. When the bed rock 
is reached on which the rich dirt is found, excava- 
tions are made all round, leaving only the necessary 
supporting pillars of earth, which are also ultimately 
removed, and replaced by logs of wood. Accidents 
frequently occur from the " caving-in " of these dig- 
gings, the result generally of the carelessness of the 
men themselves. 

The Cornish miners, of whom numbers had come 
to California from the mines of Mexico and South 
America, generally devoted themselves to these deep 
diggings, as did also the lead -miners from Wis- 
consin. Such men were quite at home a hundred 
feet or so under ground, picking through hard rock 


by candlelight ; at the same time, gold mining in 
any way was to almost every one a new occupa- 
tion, and men who had passed their lives hitherto 
above ground, took quite as naturally to this sub- 
terranean style of digging as to any other. 

We felt no particular fancy for it, however, espe- 
cially as we could not get a claim ; and having heard 
favourable accounts of the diggings on Weaver Creek, 
we concluded to migrate to that place. It was about 
fifteen miles off ; and having hired a mule and cart 
from a man in Hangtown to carry our long torn, 
hoses, picks, shovels, blankets, and pot and pans, we 
started early the next morning, and arrived at our 
destination about noon. We passed through some 
beautiful scenery on the way. The ground was not 
yet parched and scorched by the summer sun, but was 
still green, and on the hillsides were patches of wild- 
ilowers growing so thick that they were quite soft 
and delightful to lie down upon. For some distance 
we followed a winding road between smooth rounded 
hills, thickly wooded with immense pines and cedars, 
gradually ascending till we came upon a comparatively 
level country, which had all the beauty of an English 
park. The ground was quite smooth, though gently 
undulating, and the rich verdure was diversified with 
numbers of white, yellow, and purple flowers. The 
oaks of various kinds, which were here the only tree, 
were of an immense size, but not so numerous as 
to confine the view ; and the only underwood was 
the mansanita, a very beautiful and graceful shrub, 


generally growing in single plants to the height of 
six or eight feet. There was no appearance of rug- 
gedness or disorder ; we might have imagined our- 
selves in a well-kept domain ; and the solitude, and 
the vast unemployed wealth of nature, alone re- 
minded us that we were among the wild mountains 
of California. 

After travelling some miles over this sort of country, 
we got among the pine trees once more, and very 
soon came to the brink of the high mountains over- 
hanging Weaver Creek. The descent was so steep that 
we had the greatest difficulty in getting the cart down 
without a capsize, having to make short tacks down 
the face of the hill, and generally steering for a tree 
to bring up upon in case of accidents. At the point 
where we reached the Creek was a store, and scattered 
along the rocky banks of the Creek were a few miners 7 
tents and cabins. We had expected to have to camp 
out here, but seeing a small tent unoccupied near the 
store, we made inquiry of the storekeeper, and finding 
that it belonged to him, and that he had no objection 
to our using it, we took possession accordingly, and 
proceeded to light a fire and cook our dinner. 

Not knowing how far we might be from a store, 
we had brought along with us a supply of flour, ham, 
beans, and tea, with which we were quite independent. 
After prospecting a little, we soon found a spot on 
the bank of the stream which we judged would yield 
us pretty fair pay for our labour. We had some 
difficulty at first in bringing water to the long torn, 


having to lead our hose a considerable distance up 
the stream to obtain sufficient elevation ; but we soon 
got everything in working order, and pitched in. 
The gold which we found here was of the finest kind, 
and required great care in washing. It was in 
exce edingly small thin scales so thin, that in washing 
out in a pan at the end of the day, a scale of gold 
would occasionally float for an instant on the surface 
of the water. This is the most valuable kind of gold 
dust, and is worth one or two dollars an ounce more 
than the coarse chunky dust. 

It was a wild rocky place where we were now 
located. The steep mountains, rising abruptly all 
round us, so confined the view that we seemed to 
be shut out from the rest of the world. The nearest 
village or settlement was about ten miles distant; 
and all the miners on the Creek within four or five 
miles living in isolated cabins, tents, and brush- 
houses, or camping out on the rocks, resorted for pro- 
visions to the small store already mentioned, which 
was supplied with a general assortment of provisions 
and clothing. 

There had still been occasional heavy rains, from 
which our tent was but poor protection, and we 
awoke sometimes in the morning, finding small pools 
of water in the folds of our blankets, and everything 
so soaking wet, inside the tent as well as outside, 
that it was hopeless to attempt to light a fire. On 
such occasions, raw ham, hard bread, and cold water 
was all the breakfast we could raise ; eking it out, 


however, with an extra pipe, and relieving our feel- 
ings by laying in fiercely with pick and shovel. 

The weather very soon, however, became quite 
settled. The sky was always bright and cloudless ; 
all verdure was fast disappearing from the hills, and 
they began to look brown and scorched. The heat 
in the mines during summer is greater than in most 
tropical countries. I have in some parts seen the 
thermometer as high as 120 in the shade during the 
greater part of the day for three weeks at a time ; 
but the climate is not by any means so relaxing and 
oppressive as in countries where, though the range 
of the thermometer is much lower, the damp suffo- 
cating atmosphere makes the heat more severely felt. 
In the hottest weather in California, it is always 
agreeably cool at night sufficiently so to make a 
blanket acceptable, and to enable one to enjoy a 
sound sleep, in which one recovers from all the evil 
effects of the previous day's baking ; and even the 
extreme heat of the hottest hours of the day, though 
it crisps up one's hair like that of a nigger's, is still 
light and exhilarating, and by no means disinclines 
one for bodily exertion. 

We continued to work the claim we had first 
taken for two or three weeks with very good success, 
when the diggings gave out that is to say, they 
ceased to yield sufficiently to suit our ideas : so we 
took up another claim about a mile further up the 
creek ; and as this was rather an inconvenient distance 
from our tent, we abandoned it, and took possession 


of a log cabin near our claim which some men had 
just vacated. It was a very badly - built cabin, 
perched on a rocky platform overhanging the rugged 
pathway which led along the banks of the creek. 

A cabin with a good shingle-roof is generally the 
coolest kind of abode in summer ; but ours was 
only roofed with cotton cloth, offering scarcely any 
resistance to the fierce rays of the sun, which 
rendered the cabin during the day so intolerably 
hot, that we cooked and eat our dinner under the 
shade of a tree. 

A whole bevy of Chinamen had recently made 
their appearance on the creek. Their camp, consist- 
ing of a dozen or so of small tents and brush- 
houses, was near our cabin on the side of the hill 
too near to be pleasant, for they kept up a continual 
chattering all night, which was rather tiresome till 
we got used to it. 

They are an industrious set of people, no doubt, 
but are certainly not calculated for gold-digging. 
They do not work with the same force or vigour as 
American or European miners, but handle their tools 
like so many women, as if they were afraid of hurt- 
ing themselves. The Americans called it " scratch- 
ing," which was a very expressive term for their 
style of digging. They did not venture to assert 
equal rights so far as to take up any claim which 
other miners would think it worth while to work ; 
but in such places as yielded them a dollar or two 
a- day they were allowed to scratch away unmolested. 


Had they happened to strike a rich lead, they would 
have been driven off their claim immediately. They 
were very averse to working in the water, and for 
four or five hours in the heat of the day they 
assembled under the shade of a tree, where they sat 
fanning themselves, drinking tea, and saying " too 
muchee hot/' 

On the whole, they seemed a harmless, inoffensive 
people ; but one day, as we were going to dinner, we 
heard an unusual hullaballoo going on where the 
Chinamen were at work ; and on reaching the place 
we found the whole tribe of Celestials divided into 
two equal parties, drawn up against each other in 
battle array, brandishing picks and shovels, lifting 
stones as if to hurl them at their adversaries' heads, 
and every man chattering and gesticulating in the 
most frantic manner. The miners collected on the 
ground to see the " muss," and cheered the Chinamen 
on to more active hostilities. But after taunting 
and threatening each other in this way for about an 
hour, during which time, although the excitement 
seemed to be continually increasing, not a blow was 
struck nor a stone thrown, the two parties suddenly, 
and without any apparent cause, fraternised, and 
moved off together to their tents. What all the row 
was about, or why peace was so suddenly proclaimed, 
was of course a mystery to us outside barbarians ; 
and the tame and unsatisfactory termination of such 
warlike demonstrations was a great disappointment, 
as we had been every moment expecting that the 


ball would open, and hoped to see a general engage- 

It reminded me of the way in which a couple of 
French Canadians have a set-to. Shaking their fists 
within an inch of each other's faces, they call each 
other all the names imaginable, beginning with sacre 
cochon, and going through a long series of still less 
complimentary epithets, till finally sacre astrologe 
caps the climax. This is a regular smasher ; it is 
supposed to be such a comprehensive term as to 
exhaust the whole vocabulary ; both parties then 
give in for want of ammunition, and the fight is 
over. I presume it was by a similar process that 
the Chinamen arrived at a solution of their difficulty ; 
at all events, discretion seemed to form a very large 
component part of Celestial valour. 




THE miners on the creek were nearly all Americans, 
and exhibited a great variety of mankind. Some, it 
was very evident, were men who had hitherto only 
worked with their heads ; others one would have 
set down as having been mechanics of some sort, 
and as having lived in cities ; and there were num- 
bers of unmistakeable backwoodsmen and farmers 
from the Western States. Of these a large proportion 
were Missourians, who had emigrated across the 
plains. From the State of Missouri the people had 
flocked in thousands to the gold diggings, and par- 
ticularly from a county in that state called Pike 

The peculiarities of the Missourians are very 
strongly marked, and after being in the mines but 
a short time, one could distinguish a Missourian, or 

A " PIKE COUNTY/' 1 47 

a " Pike," or " Pike County/' as they are called, from 
the natives of any other western State. Their 
costume was always exceedingly old and greasy- 
looking ; they had none of the occasional foppery 
of the miner, which shows itself in brilliant red 
shirts, boots with flaming red tops, fancy -coloured 
hats, silver-handled bowie-knives, and rich silk sashes. 
It always seemed to me that a Missourian wore 
the same clothes in which he had crossed the plains, 
and that he was keeping them to wear on his 
journey home again. Their hats were felt, of a dirty- 
brown colour, and the shape of a short extinguisher. 
Their shirts had perhaps, in days gone by, been red, 
but were now a sort of purple ; their pantaloons 
were generally of a snuffy-brown colour, and made 
of some woolly home-made fabric. Suspended at 
their back from a narrow strap buckled round the 
waist they carried a wooden-handled bowie-knife in 
an old leathern sheath, not stitched, but riveted with 
leaden nails ; and over their shoulders they wore 
strips of cotton or cloth as suspenders mechanical 
contrivances never thought of by any other men 
in the mines. As for their boots, there was no 
peculiarity about them, excepting that they were 
always old. Their coats, a garment not frequently 
seen in the mines for at least six months of the 
year, were very extraordinary things exceedingly 
tight, short-waisted, long-skirted surtouts of home- 
made frieze of a greyish-blue colour. 

As for their persons, they were mostly long, 


gaunt, narrow-chested, round-shouldered men, with 
long, straight, light-coloured, dried-up-looking hair, 
small thin sallow faces, with rather scanty beard 
and moustache, and small grey sunken eyes, which 
seemed to be keenly perceptive of everything around 
them. But in their movements the men were slow 
and awkward, and in the towns especially they 
betrayed a childish astonishment at the strange 
sights occasioned by the presence of the divers 
nations of the earth. The fact is, that till they came 
to California many of them had never in their lives 
before seen two houses together, and in any little 
village in the mines they witnessed more of the 
wonders of civilisation than ever they had dreamed 

In some respects, perhaps, the mines of California 
were as wild a place as any part of the Western 
States of America ; but they were peopled by a 
community of men of all classes, and from different 
countries, who, though living in a rough backwoods 
style, had nevertheless all the ideas and amenities 
of civilised life ; while the Missourians, having come 
direct across the plains from their homes in the 
backwoods, had received no preparatory education 
to enable them to show off to advantage in such 

And in this they laboured under a great disad- 
vantage, as compared with the lower classes of 
people of every country who came to San Francisco 
by way of Panama or Cape Horn. The men from 


the interior of the States learned something even on 
their journey to New York or New Orleans, having 
their eyes partially opened during the few days they 
spent in either of those cities en route ; and on the 
passage to San Francisco they naturally received a 
certain degree of polish from being violently shaken 
up with a crowd of men of different habits and ideas 
from their own. They had to give way in many 
things to men whose motives of action were perhaps 
to them incomprehensible, while of course they 
gained a few new ideas from being brought into close 
contact with such sorts of men as they had hitherto 
only seen at a distance, or very likely had never 
heard of. A little experience of San Francisco did 
them no harm, and by the time they reached the 
mines they had become very superior men to the 
raw bumpkins they were before leaving their homes. 

It may seem strange, but it is undoubtedly true, 
that the majority of men in whom such a change 
was most desirable became in California more hu- 
manised, and acquired a certain amount of urbanity ; 
in fact, they came from civilised countries in the 
rough state, and in California got licked into shape, 
and polished. 

I had subsequently, while residing on the Isthmus 
of Nicaragua, constant opportunities of witnessing 
the truth of this, in contrasting the outward-bound 
emigrants with the same class of men returning to 
the States after having received a California educa- 
tion. Every fortnight two crowds of passengers 


rushed across the Isthmus, one from New York, the 
other from San Francisco. The great majority in 
both cases were men of the lower ranks of life, and 
it is of course to them alone that my remarks apply. 
Those coming from New York who were mostly 
Americans and Irish seemed to think that each 
man could do just as he pleased, without regard to 
the comfort of his neighbours. They showed no 
accommodating spirit, but grumbled at everything, 
and were rude and surly in their manners ; they 
were very raw and stupid, and had no genius for 
doing anything for themselves or each other to assist 
their progress, but perversely delighted in acting in 
opposition to the regulations and arrangements made 
for them by the Transit Company. The same men, 
however, on their return from California, were per- 
fect gentlemen in comparison. They were orderly 
in their behaviour ; though rough, they were not 
rude, and showed great consideration for others, 
submitting cheerfully to any personal inconvenience 
necessary for the common good, and showing by 
their conduct that they had acquired some notion of 
their duties to balance the very enlarged idea of 
their rights which they had formerly entertained. 

The Missourians, however, although they acquired 
no new accomplishments on their journey to Cali- 
fornia, lost none of those which they originally pos- 
sessed. They could use an axe or a rifle with any 
man. Two of them would chop down a few trees 
and build a log-cabin in a day and a half, and with 


their long five-foot-barrel-rifle, which was their con- 
stant companion, they could "draw a bead" on a 
deer, a squirrel, or the white of an Indian's eye, 
with equal coolness and certainty of killing. 

Though large-framed men, they were not remark- 
able for physical strength, nor were they robust in 
constitution ; in fact, they were the most sickly set 
of men in the mines, fever and ague and diarrhoea 
being their favourite complaints. 

We had many pleasant neighbours, and among 
them were some very amusing characters. One man, 
who went by the name of the " Philosopher," might 
possibly have earned a better right to the name, if he 
had had the resolution to abstain from whisky. He 
had been, I believe, a farmer in Kentucky, and was 
one of a class not uncommon in America, who, with- 
out much education, but with great ability and im- 
mense command of language, together with a very 
superficial knowledge of some science, hold forth on 
it most fluently, using such long words, and putting 
them so well together, that, were it not for the 
crooked ideas they enunciated, one might almost sup- 
pose they knew what they were talking about. 

Phrenology was this man's hobby, and he had all 
the phrenological phraseology at his finger-ends. His 
great delight was to paw a man's head and to tell 
him his character. One Sunday morning he came 
into our cabin as he was going down to the store for 
provisions, and after a few minutes' conversation, of 
course he introduced phrenology ; and as I knew I 


should not get rid of him till I did so, I gave him my 
permission to feel my head. He fingered it all over, 
and gave me a very elaborate synopsis of my char- 
acter, explaining most minutely the consequences of 
the combination of the different bumps, and telling 
me how I would act in a variety of supposed contin- 
gencies. Having satisfied himself as to my character, 
he went off, and I was in hopes I was done with him, 
but an hour or so after dark, he came rolling into the 
cabin just as I was going to turn in. He was as 
drunk as he well could be ; his nose was swelled and 
bloody, his eyes were both well blackened, and alto- 
gether he was very unlike a learned professor of 
phrenology. He begged to be allowed to stay all 
night ; and as he would most likely have broken his 
neck over the rocks if he had tried to reach his own 
home that night, I made him welcome, thinking that 
he would immediately fall asleep without troubling 
me further. But I was very much mistaken ; he had 
no sooner laid down, than he began to harangue me 
as if I were a public meeting or a debating society, 
addressing me as " gentlemen," and expatiating on a 
variety of topics, but chiefly on phrenology, the Demo- 
cratic ticket, and the great mass of the people. He 
had a bottle of brandy with him, which I made him 
finish in hopes it might have the effect of silencing 
him ; but there was unfortunately not enough of it for 
that it only made him worse, for he left the debating 
society and got into a bar-room, where, when I went 
to sleep, he was playing " poker" with some imagin- 
ary individual whom he called Jim. 


In the morning he made most ample apologies, 
and was very earnest in expressing his gratitude for 
my hospitality. I took the liberty of asking him 
what bumps he called those in the neighbourhood of 
his eyes. " Well, sir," he said, " you ask me a plain 
question, I'll give you a plain answer. I got into a 
'muss' down at the store last night, and was whip- 
ped ; and I deserved it too." As he was so penitent, 
I did not press him for further particulars ; but I 
heard from another man the same day, that when at 
the store he had taken the opportunity of an audience 
to lecture them on his favourite subject, and illus- 
trated his theory by feeling several heads, and giving 
very full descriptions of the characters of the indi- 
viduals. At last he got hold of a man who must 
have had something peculiar in the formation of his 
cranium, for he gave him a most dreadful character, 
calling him a liar, a cheat, and a thief, and winding 
up by saying that he was a man who would murder 
his father for five dollars. 

The natural consequence was, that the owner of 
this enviable character jumped up and pitched into 
the phrenologist, giving him the whipping which he 
had so candidly acknowledged, and would probably 
have murdered him without the consideration of the 
five dollars, if the bystanders had not interfered. 

Very near where we were at work, a party of 
half-a-dozen men held a claim in the bed of the 
creek, and had as usual dug a race through which to 
turn the water, and so leave exposed the part they 
intended to work. This they were now anxious to 


do, as the creek had fallen sufficiently low to admit 
of it ; but they were opposed by a number of 
miners, whose claims lay so near the race that they 
would have been swamped had the water been turned 
into it. 

They could not come to any settlement of the 
question among themselves ; so, as was usual in such 
cases, they concluded to leave it to a jury of miners ; 
and notice was accordingly sent to all the miners 
within two or three miles up and down the creek, 
requesting them to assemble on the claim in question 
the next afternoon. Although a miner calculates an 
hour lost as so much money out of his pocket, yet all 
were interested in supporting the laws of the diggings ; 
and about a hundred men presented themselves at the 
appointed time. The two opposing parties then, 
having tossed up for the first pick, chose six jury- 
men each from the assembled crowd. 

When the jury had squatted themselves all together 
in an exalted position on a heap of stones and dirt, 
one of the plaintiffs, as spokesman for his party, 
made a very pithy speech, calling several witnesses to 
prove his statements, and citing many of the laws of 
the diggings in support of his claims. The defend- 
ants followed in the same manner, making the most 
of their case ; while the general public, sitting in 
groups on the different heaps of stones piled up 
between the holes with which the ground was 
honeycombed, smoked their pipes and watched the 


After the plaintiff and defendant had said all they 
had to say about it, the jury examined the state of 
the ground in dispute ; they then called some more 
witnesses to give further information, and having laid 
their shaggy heads together for a few minutes, they 
pronounced their decision ; which was, that the men 
working on the race should be allowed six days to 
work out their claims before the water should be 
turned in upon them. 

Neither party were particularly well pleased with 
the verdict a pretty good sign that it was an im- 
partial one ; but they had to abide by it, for had there 
been any resistance on either side, the rest of the 
miners would have enforced the decision of this 
august tribunal. From it there was no appeal ; a jury 
of miners was the highest court known, and I must 
say I never saw a court of justice with so little hum- 
bug about it. 

The laws of the creek, as was the case in all the 
various diggings in the mines, were made at meetings 
of miners held for the purpose. They were generally 
very few and simple. They defined how many feet 
of ground one man was entitled to hold in a ravine 
how much in the bank, and in the bed of the creek ; 
how many such claims he could hold at a time ; and 
how long he could absent himself from his claim with- 
out forfeiting it. They declared what was necessary 
to be done in taking up and securing a claim which, 
for want of water, or from any other cause, could not 
be worked at the time ; and they also provided for 


various contingencies incidental to the peculiar nature 
of the diggings. 

Of course, like other laws they required constant 
revision and amendment, to suit the progress of the 
times ; and a few weeks after this trial, a meeting was 
held one Sunday afternoon for legislative purposes. 
The miners met in front of the store to the number 
of about two hundred ; a very respectable-looking old 
chap was called to the chair ; but for want of that 
article of furniture he mounted an empty pork-barrel, 
which gave him a commanding position ; another man 
was appointed secretary, who placed his writing 
materials on some empty boxes piled up alongside of 
the chair. The chairman then, addressing the crowd, 
told them the object for which the meeting had been 
called, and said he would be happy to hear any 
gentleman who had any remarks to offer ; whereupon 
some one proposed an amendment of the law relating 
to a certain description of claim, arguing the point 
in a very neat speech. He was duly seconded, and 
there was some slight opposition and discussion ; but 
when the chairman declared it carried by the ayes, no 
one called for a division, so the secretary wrote it all 
down, and it became law. 

Two or three other acts were passed, and when 
the business was concluded, a vote of thanks to the 
chairman was passed for his able conduct on the top 
of the pork-barrel. The meeting was then declared 
to be dissolved, and accordingly dribbled into the 
store, where the legislators, in small detachments, 


pledged each other in cocktails as fast as the store- 
keeper could mix them. While the legislature was 
in session, 'however, everything was conducted with 
the utmost formality, for Americans of all classes 
are particularly au fait at the ordinary routine of 
public meetings. 

After working our claim for a few weeks, my 
partner left me to go to another part of the mines, 
and I joined two Americans in buying a claim five 
or six miles up the creek. It was supposed to 
be very rich, and we had to pay a long price for it 
accordingly, although the men who had taken it up, 
and from whom we bought it, had not yet even pro- 
spected the ground. But the adjoining claims were 
being worked, and yielding largely, and from the 
position of ours, it was looked on as an equally good 

There was a great deal to be done, before it could 
be worked, in the way of removing rocks and turning 
the water ; and as three of us were not sufficient to 
work the place properly, we hired four men to assist 
us, at the usual wages of five dollars a-day. It took 
about a fortnight to get the claim into order before 
we could begin washing, but we then found that our 
labour had not been expended in vain, for it paid 
uncommonly well. 

When I bought this claim, I had to give up 
my cabin, as the distance was so great, and I 
now camped with my partners close to our claim, 
where we had erected a brush-house. This is a very 


comfortable kind of abode in summer, and does 
iiot cost an hour's labour to erect. Four uprights 
are stuck in the ground, and connected with cross 
pieces, on which are laid heaps of leafy brushwood, 
making a roof completely impervious to the rays of 
the sun. Sometimes three sides are filled in with a 
basketwork of brush, which gives the edifice a more 
compact and comfortable appearance. Very frequently 
a brush-shed of this sort was erected over a tent, for the 
thin material of which tents were usually made, offered 
but poor shelter from the burning sun. 

When I left my cabin, I handed it over to a young 
man who had arrived very lately in the country, and 
had just come up to the mines. On meeting him a 
few days afterwards, and asking him how he liked 
his new abode, he told me that the first night of his 
occupation he had not slept a wink, and had kept 
candles burning till daylight, being afraid to go to 
sleep on account of the rats. 

Eats, indeed ! poor fellow ! I should think there 
were a few rats, but the cabin was not worse in that 
respect than any other in the mines. The rats were 
most active colonisers. Hardly was a cabin built in 
the most out-of-the-way part of the mountains, before 
a large family of rats made themselves at home in it, 
imparting a humanised and inhabited air to the place. 
They are not supposed to be indigenous to the country. 
They are a large black species, which I believe those 
who are learned in rats call the Hamburg breed. 
Occasionally a pure white one is seen, but more fre- 

EATS. 159 

quently in the cities than in the mines ; they are 
probably the hoary old patriarchs, and not a distinct 

They are very destructive, and are such notorious 
thieves, carrying off letters, newspapers, handker- 
chiefs, and things of that sort, with which to make 
their nests, that I soon acquired a habit, which is 
common enough in the mines, of always ramming 
my stockings tightly into the toes of my boots, 
putting my neckerchief into my pocket, and other- 
wise securing all such matters before turning in at 
night. One took these precautions just as naturally, 
and as much as a matter of course, as when at sea 
one fixes things in such a manner that they shall 
not fetch way with the motion of the ship. As in 
civilised life a man winds up his watch and puts it 
under his pillow before going to bed ; so in the mines, 
when turning in, one just as instinctively sets to 
work to circumvent the rats in the manner described, 
and, taking off his revolver, lays it under his pillow, 
or at least under the coat or boots, or whatever he 
rests his head on. 

I believe there are individuals who faint or go into 
hysterics if a cat happens to be in the same room with 
them. Any one having a like antipathy to rats had 
better keep as far away from California as possible, 
especially from the mines. The inhabitants generally, 
however, have no such prejudices ; it is a free coun- 
try as free to rats as to Chinamen ; they increase 
and multiply and settle on the land very much as 


they please, eating up your flour, and running over 
you when you are asleep, without ceremony. 

No one thinks it worth while to kill individual 
rats the abstract fact of their existence remains 
the same ; you might as well wage war upon mos- 
quitos. I often shot rats, but it was for the sport, 
not for the mere object of killing them. Eat- 
shooting is capital sport, and is carried on in this 
wise : The most favourable place for it is a log-cabin 
in which the chinks have not been filled up, so that 
there is a space of two of three inches between the 
logs ; and the season is a moonlight night. Then 
when you lie down for the night (it would be 
absurd to call it "going to bed" in the mines), 
you have your revolver charged, and plenty of 
ammunition at hand. The lights are of course put 
out, and the cabin is in darkness ; but the rats have 
a fashion of running along the tops of the logs, and 
occasionally standing still, showing clearly against 
the moonlight outside ; then is your time to draw a 
bead upon them and knock them over if you can. 
But it takes a good shot to do much at this sort of 
work, and a man who kills two or three brace be- 
fore going to sleep has had a very splendid night's 



WE worked our claim very successfully for about six 
weeks, when the creek at last became so dry that we 
had not water enough to run our long torn, and the 
claim was rendered for the present unavailable. It, 
of course, remained good to us for next season ; but 
as I had no idea of being there to work it, I sold out 
my interest to my partners, and, throwing mining to 
the dogs, I broke out in a fresh place altogether. 

I had always been in the habit of amusing myself 
by sketching in my leisure moments, especially in 
the middle of the day, for an hour or so after dinner, 
when all hands were taking a rest " nooning," as the 
miners call it lying in the shade, in the full enjoy- 
ment of their pipes, or taking a nap. My sketches 
were much sought after, and on Sundays I was beset 

by men begging me to do something for them. 



Every man wanted a sketch of his claim, or his 
cabin, or some spot with which he identified him- 
self ; and as they all offered to pay very handsomely, 
I was satisfied that I could make paper and pencil 
much more profitable tools to work with than pick 
and shovel. 

My new pursuit had the additional attraction of 
affording me an opportunity of gratifying the desire 
which I had long felt of wandering over the mines, 
and seeing all the various kinds of diggings, and the 
strange specimens of human nature to be found in 

I sent to Sacramento for a fresh supply of drawing- 
paper, for which I had only to pay the moderate sum 
of two dollars and a half (ten shillings sterling) a sheet ; 
and finding my old brother-miners very liberal patrons 
of the fine arts, I remained some time in the neigh- 
bourhood actively engaged with my pencil. 

I then had occasion to return to Hangtown. On 
my arrival there, I went as usual to the cabin of my 
friend the doctor, which I found in a pretty mess. 
The ground on which some of the houses were built 
had turned out exceedingly rich ; and thinking that 
he might be as lucky as his neighbours, the doctor 
had got a party of six miners to work the inside of 
his cabin on half shares. He was to have half the 
gold taken out, as the rights of property in any sort 
of house or habitation in the mines extend to the 
mineral wealth below it. In his cabin were two 
large holes, six feet square and about seven deep ; in 


each of these were three miners, picking and shovel- 
ling, or washing the dirt in rockers with the water 
pumped out of the holes. When one place had been 
worked out, the dirt was all shovelled back into the 
hole, and another one commenced alongside of it. 
They took about a fortnight in this way to work 
all the floor of the cabin, and found it very rich. 

There was a young Southerner in Hangtown at 
this time, who had brought one of his slaves with 
him to California. They worked and lived together, 
master and man sharing equally the labours and hard- 
ships of the mines. 

One night the slave dreamed that they had been 
working the inside of a certain cabin in the street, 
and had taken out a great pile of gold. He told his 
master in the morning, but neither of them thought 
much of it, as such golden dreams are by no means 
uncommon among the miners. A few nights after- 
wards, however, he had precisely the same dream, 
and was so convinced that their fortune lay waiting 
for them under this particular cabin, that he suc- 
ceeded at last in persuading his master to believe 
it also. He said nothing to any one about the 
dream, but made some pretext for wishing to be- 
come the owner of the cabin, and finally succeeded 
in buying it. He and his slave immediately moved 
in, and set to work digging up the earthen floor, and 
the dream proved to be so far true, that before they 
had worked all the ground they had taken out twenty 
thousand dollars. 



There were many slaves in various parts of the 
mines working with their masters, and I knew fre- 
quent instances of their receiving their freedom. 
Some slaves I have also seen left in the mines by 
their masters, working faithfully to make money 
enough w^herewith to buy themselves. Of course, as 
California is a free State, a slave, when once taken 
there by his master, became free by law ; but no man 
would bring a slave to the country, unless one on 
whose fidelity he could depend. 

Niggers, in some parts of the mines, were pretty 
numerous, though by no means forming so large a 
proportion of the population as in the Atlantic 
States. As miners they were proverbially lucky, but 
they were also inveterate gamblers, and did not long 
remain burdened with their unwonted riches. 

In the mines the Americans seemed to exhibit 
more tolerance of negro blood than is usual in the 
States not that negroes were allowed to sit at table 
with white men, or considered to be at all on an 
equality, but, owing partly to the exigencies of the 
unsettled state of society, and partly, no doubt, 
to the important fact, that a nigger's dollars were 
as good as any others, the Americans overcame their 
prejudices so far that negroes were permitted to lose 
their money in the gambling rooms ; and in the less 
frequented drinking-shops they might be seen receiv- 
ing drinks at the hands of white bar-keepers. In a 
town or camp of any size there was always a " nigger 
boarding-house/' kept, of course, by a darky, for the 


special accommodation of coloured people ; but in 
places where there was no such institution, or at 
wayside houses, when a negro wanted accommoda- 
tion, he waited till the company had finished their 
meal and left the table before he ventured to sit 
down. I have often, on such occasions, seen the 
white waiter, or the landlord, when he filled that 
office himself, serving a nigger with what he wanted 
without apparently doing any violence to his feel- 

A very striking proof was seen, in this matter of 
waiting, of the revolution which California life caused 
in the feelings and occupations of the inhabitants. 
The Americans have an intense feeling of repugnance 
to any kind of menial service, and consider waiting 
at table as quite degrading to a free and enlightened 
citizen. In the United States there is hardly such a 
thing to be found as a native-born American waiting 
at table. Such service is always performed by negroes, 
Irishmen, or Germans ; but in California, in the mines 
at least, it was very different. The almighty dollar 
exerted a still more powerful influence than in the 
old States, for it overcame all pre-existing false 
notions of dignity. The principle was universally 
admitted and acted on, that no honest occupation 
was derogatory, and no question of dignity inter- 
fered to prevent a man from employing himself in 
any way by which it suited his convenience to make 
his money. It was nothing uncommon to see 
men of refinement and education keeping restaur- 


ants or roadside houses, and waiting on any raga- 
muffin who chose to patronise them, with as much 
empressement as an English waiter who expects his 
customary coppers. But as no one considered him- 
self demeaned by his occupation, neither was there 
any assumption of a superiority which was not al- 
lowed to exist ; and whatever were their relative 
positions, men treated each other with an equal 
amount of deference. 

After being detained a few days in Hangtown 
waiting for letters from San Francisco, I set out for 
Nevada City, about seventy miles north, intending 
from there to travel up the Yuba Eiver, and see what 
was to be seen in that part of the mines. 

My way lay through Middletown, the scene of my 
former mining exploits, and from that through a 
small village, called Cold Springs, to Caloma, the 
place where gold was first discovered. It lies at the 
base of high mountains, on the south fork of the 
American Eiver. There were a few very neat well- 
painted houses in the village ; but as the diggings in 
the neighbourhood were not particularly good, there 
was little life or animation about the place ; in 
fact, it was the dullest mining town in the whole 

The first discovery of gold was accidentally made 
at this spot by some workmen in the employment of 
Colonel Sutter, while digging a race to convey water 
to a saw-mill. Colonel Sutter, a Swiss by birth, had, 


some years before, penetrated to California, and there 
established himself. The fort which he built for 
protection against the Indians, and in which he re- 
sided, is situated a few miles from where Sacramento 
City now stands. 

I dined at Caloma, and proceeded on my way, 
having a stiff hill to climb to gain the high land 
lying between me and the middle fork of the Ameri- 
can Eiver. Crossing the rivers is the most laborious 
part of California travelling ; they flow so far below 
the average level of the country, which, though ex- 
ceedingly rough and hilly, is comparatively easy to 
travel ; but on coming to the brink of this high land, 
and looking down upon the river thousands of feet 
below one, the summit of the opposite side appears 
almost nearer than the river itself, and one longs for 
the loan of a pair of wings for a few moments to 
save the toil of descending so far, and having again 
to climb an equal height to gain such an apparently 
short distance. 

Some miles from Caloma is a very pretty place 
called Greenwood Valley a long, narrow, winding 
valley, with innumerable ravines running into it 
from the low hills on each side. For several miles 
I travelled down this valley : the bed of the creek 
which flowed through it, and all the ravines, had 
been dug up, and numbers of cabins stood on the 
hill-sides ; but at this season the creek was com- 
pletely dry, and consequently no mining operations 


could be carried on. The cabins were all tenantless, 
and the place looked more desolate than if its soli- 
tude had never been disturbed by man. 

At the lower end of Greenwood Valley was a 
small village of the same name, consisting of half-a- 
dozen cabins, two or three stores, and a hotel. While 
stopping here for the night, I enjoyed a great treat 
in the perusal of a number of late newspapers 
among others the Illustrated News, containing ac- 
counts of the Great Exhibition. In the mines one 
was apt to get sadly behind in modern history. The 
Express men in the towns made a business of selling 
editions of the leading papers of the United States, 
containing the news of the fortnight, and expressly 
got up for circulation in California. Of these the 
most popular with northern men was the New York 
Herald, and with the southerners the New Orleans 
Delta. The Illustrated News was also a great 
favourite, being usually sold at a dollar, while other 
papers only fetched half that price. But unless one 
happened to be in some town or village when the 
mail from the States arrived, there was little chance 
of ever seeing a paper, as they were all bought up 

I struck the middle fork of the American Eiver at 
a place called Spanish Bar. The scenery was very 
grand. Looking down on the river from the summit 
of the range, it seemed a mere thread winding along 
the deep chasm formed by the mountains, which 
were so steep that the pine trees clinging to their 

A " BAR." 1 69 

sides looked as though they would slip down into the 
river. The face of the mountain by which I descended 
was covered with a perfect trellice-work of zigzag 
trails, so that I could work my way down by long or 
short tacks as I felt inclined. On the mountain on the 
opposite side I could see the faint line of the trail which 
I had to follow; it did not look by any means inviting ; 
and I was thankful that, for the present at any rate, 
I was going down hill. Walking down a long hill, 
however, so steep that one dare not run, though not 
quite such hard work at the time as climbing up, is 
equally fatiguing in its results, as it shakes one's 
knees all to pieces. 

I reached the river at last, and, crossing over in a 
canoe, landed on the " Bar." 

What they call a Bar in California is the flat 
which is usually found on the convex side of a bend 
in a river. Such places have nearly always proved 
very rich, that being the side on which any deposit 
carried down by the river will naturally lodge, while 
the opposite bank is generally steep and precipitous, 
and contains little or no gold. Indeed, there are not 
many exceptions to the rule that, in a spot where one 
bank of a river affords good diggings, the other side 
is not worth working. 

The largest camps or villages on the rivers are on 
the bars, and take their names from them. 

The nomenclature of the mines is not very choice or 
elegant. The rivers all retain the names given to them 
by the Spaniards, but every little creek, flat, and ravine, 


besides of course the towns and villages which have 
been called into existence, have received their names 
at the hands of the first one or two miners who have 
happened to strike the diggings. The individual 
pioneer has seldom shown much invention or origin- 
ality in his choice of a name ; in most cases he has 
either immortalised his own by tacking " ville " or 
" town" to the end of it, or has more modestly chosen 
the name of some place in his native State ; but a vast 
number of places have been absurdly named from 
some trifling incident connected with their first set- 
tlement ; such as Shirt Tail Canon, Whisky Gulch, 
Port Wine Diggins, Humbug Flat, Murderer's Bar, 
Flapjack Canon, Yankee Jim's, Jackass Gulch, and 
hundreds of others with equally ridiculous names. 

Spanish Bar was about half a mile in length, and 
three or four hundred yards wide. The whole place 
was honeycombed with the holes in which the miners 
were at work ; all the trees had been cut down, and 
there was nothing but the red shirts of the miners to 
relieve the dazzling whiteness of the heaps of stones 
and gravel which reflected the fierce rays of the sun, 
and made the extreme heat doubly severe. 

At the foot of the mountain, as if they had been 
pushed back as far as possible off the diggings, stood 
a row of booths and tents, most of them of a very 
ragged and worn-out appearance. I made for the 
one which looked most imposing a canvass edifice, 
which, from the huge sign all along the front, assumed 
to be the " United States" Hotel. It was not far from 


twelve o'clock, the universal dinner-hour in the mines; 
so I lighted my pipe, and lay down in the shade to 
compose myself for the great event. 

The American system of using hotels as regular 
boarding-houses prevails also in California. The 
hotels in the mines are really boarding-houses, for it 
is on the number of their boarders they depend. The 
transient custom of travellers is merely incidental. 
The average rate of board per week at these institu- 
tions was twelve or fifteen dollars, and the charge 
for a single meal was a dollar, or a dollar and 
a half. 

The " United States" seemed to have a pretty good 
run of business. As the hour of noon (feeding time) 
approached, the miners began to congregate in the 
bar-room ; many of them took advantage of the few 
minutes before dinner to play cards, while the rest 
looked on, or took gin cocktails to whet their appe- 
tites. At last there could not have been less than 
sixty or seventy miners assembled in the bar-room, 
which was a small canvass enclosure about twenty feet 
square. On one side was a rough wooden door com- 
municating with the salle d manger; to get as near to 
this as possible was the great object, and there was a 
press against it like that at the pit door of a theatre 
on a benefit night. 

As twelve o'clock struck the door was drawn aside, 
displaying the banqueting hall, an apartment some- 
what larger than the bar-room, and containing two 
long tables well supplied with fresh beef, potatoes, 


beans, pickles, and salt pork. As soon as the door 
was opened there was a shout, a rush, a scramble, and a 
loud clatter of knives and forks, and in the course of 
a very few minutes fifty or sixty men had finished 
their dinner. Of course many more rushed into the 
dining-room than could find seats, and the disap- 
pointed ones came out again looking rather foolish, 
but they " guessed there would be plenty to eat at 
the second table." 

Having had some experience of such places, I had 
intended being one of the second detachment myself, 
and so I guessed likewise that there would be plenty 
to eat at the second table, and " cal'lated" also that I 
would have more time to eat it in than at the first. 

We were not kept long waiting. In an incredibly 
short space of time the company began to return to 
the bar-room, some still masticating a mouthful of 
food, others picking their teeth with their fingers, or 
with sharp-pointed bowie-knives, and the rest, with a 
most provokingly complacent expression about their 
eyes, making horrible motions with their jaws, as 
if they were wiping out their mouths with their 
tongues, determined to enjoy the last lingering after- 
taste of the good things they had been eating rather 
a disgusting process to a spectator at any time, but 
particularly aggravating to hungry men waiting for 
their dinner. 

When they had all left the dining-room, the door was 
again closed while the table was being relaid. In the 
mean time there had been constant fresh arrivals, and 


there were now almost as many waiting for the second 
table as there had been for the first. A crowd very 
quickly began to collect round the door, and I saw 
that to dine at number two, as I had intended, I 
must enter into the spirit of the thing ; so I elbowed 
my way into the crowd, and secured a pretty good 
position behind a tall Kentuckian, who I knew would 
clear the way before me. Very soon the door was 
opened, when in we rushed pell-mell. I laboured 
under the disadvantage of not knowing the diggings ; 
being a stranger, I did not know the lay of the tables, 
or whereabouts the joints were placed ; but im- 
mediately on entering I caught sight of a good-look- 
ing roast of beef at the far end of one of the tables, 
at which I made a desperate charge. I was not so 
green as to lose time in trying to get my legs over 
the bench and sit down, and in so doing perhaps be 
crowded out altogether ; but I seized a knife and fork, 
with which I took firm hold of my prize, and occupy- 
ing as much space as possible with my elbows, I 
gradually insinuated myself into my seat. Without 
letting go the beef, I then took a look round, and 
had the gratification of seeing about a dozen men 
leaving the room, with a most ludicrous expression 
of disappointment and hope long deferred. I have 
no doubt that when they got into the bar-room they 
guessed there would be lots to eat at table number 
three ; I hope there was. I know there was plenty at 
number two ; but it was a " grab game " every man 
for himself. If I had depended on the waiter getting 


me a slice of roast beef, I should have had the 
hungry number threes down upon me before I had 
commenced my dinner. 

Good-humour, however, was the order of the day ; 
conversation, of course, was out of the question ; but 
if you asked a man to pass you a dish, he did do so 
with pleasure, devoting one hand to your service, 
while with his knife or fork, as it might be, in the 
other, he continued to convey the contents of his 
plate to their ultimate destination. I must say that 
a knife was a favourite weapon with my convives, and 
in wielding it they displayed considerable dexterity, 
using it to feed themselves with such things as most 
people would eat with a spoon, if eating for a wager, 
or with a fork if only eating for ordinary purposes. 

After dinner a smart -looking young gentleman 
opened a monte bank in the bar-room, laying out 
five or six hundred dollars on the table as his bank. 
For half an hour or so he did a good business, when 
the miners began to drop off to resume their work. 



I MADE inquiries as to my route, and found that the 
first habitation I should reach was a ranch called the 
Grizzly-Bear House, about fifteen miles off. The trail 
had been well travelled, and I had little difficulty in 
finding my way. After a few hours' walking, I was 
beginning to think that the fifteen miles must be 
nearly up ; and as I heard an occasional crack of a 
rifle, I felt pretty sure I was getting near the end of 
my journey. 

The ground undulated like the surface of the ocean 
after a heavy gale of wind, and as I rose over the top 
of one of the waves, I got a glimpse of a log-cabin a 
few hundred yards ahead of me, which, seen through 
the lofty colonnade of stately pines, appeared no 
bigger than a rat-trap. 


As I approached, I found it was the Grizzly-Bear 
House. There could be no mistake about it, for a 
strip of canvass, on which " The Grizzly-Bear House " 
was painted in letters a foot and a half high, was 
stretched along the front of the cabin over the door ; 
and that there might be no doubt as to the meaning 
of this announcement, the idea was further impressed 
upon one by the skin of an enormous grizzly bear, 
which, spread out upon the wall, seemed to be taking 
the whole house into its embrace. 

I found half-a-dozen men standing before the door, 
amusing themselves by shooting at a mark with their 
rifles. The distance was only about a hundred yards, 
but even at that distance, when it comes to hitting a 
card nailed to a pine-tree nine times out of ten, it is 
pretty good shooting. 

Before dark, four or five other travellers arrived, 
and about a dozen of us sat down to supper together. 
The house was nothing more than a large log-cabin. 
At one end was the bar, a narrow board three feet 
long, behind which were two or three decanters and 
some kegs of liquor, a few cigars in tumblers, some 
odd bottles of champagne, and a box of tobacco. 

A couple of benches and a table occupied the centre 
of the house, and sacks of flour and other provisions 
stood in the corners. Out in the forest, behind the 
cabin, was a cooking-stove, with a sort of awning 
over it. This was the kitchen ; and certainly the 
cook could not complain of want of room ; but, judg- 
ing from our supper, he was not called upon to go 


through any very difficult manoeuvres in the practice 
of his art. He knocked off his rifle practice about 
half an hour before supper to go and light the kitchen 
fire, and the fruits of his subsequent labours appeared 
in a large potful of tea and a lot of beefsteaks. The 
bread was uncommonly stale, from which I presumed 
that, when he did bake, he baked enough to last for 
about a week. 

After supper, every man lighted his pipe, and 
though all were sufficiently talkative, the attention 
of the whole party became very soon monopolised by 
two individuals, who were decidedly the lions of the 
evening. One of them was a man from Illinois, who 
had been in the Mexican war, and who no doubt 
thought he might have been a General Scott, if he 
had only had the opportunity of distinguishing him- 
self. He commented on the tactics of the generals 
as if he knew more of warfare than any of them ; and 
the awful yarns he told of how he and the American 
army had whipped the Mexicans, and given them 
" particular hell," as he called it, was enough to make 
a civilian's hair stand on end. Some of his hearers 
swallowed every word he said, without even making 
a wry face at it ; but as he tried to make out that all 
the victories were gained by the Illinois regiment, in 
which he served as full private, two or three of the 
party, who knew something of the history of the war, 
and came from other States of the Union, had no 
idea of letting Illinois have all the glory of the achieve- 
ments, and disputed the correctness of his statements. 



Illinois, however, was too many for them ; he was not 
to be stumped in that way ; he had a stock of authen- 
tic facts on hand for any emergency, with which he 
corroborated all his previous assertions. The resist- 
ance he met with only stimulated him to greater 
efforts, and the more one of his facts was doubted, 
the more incredible was the next ; till at last he 
detailed his confidential conversations with General 
Taylor, and made himself out to be a sort of a fellow 
who swept Mexicans off the face of the earth as a 
common man would kill mosquitoes. 

He did not have all the talking to himself, how- 
ever. One of the men who kept the house was a 
bear-hunter by profession, and he had not hunted 
grizzlies for nothing. He had tales to tell of desperate 
encounters and hairbreadth escapes, to which the ad- 
ventures of Baron Munchausen were not a circum- 
stance. He was a dry stringy -looking man, with 
light hair and keen grey eyes. His features were 
rather handsome, and he had a pleasing expression; 
but he was so dried up and tanned by exposure and 
the hard life he led, that his face conveyed no idea of 
flesh. One would rather have expected, on cutting 
into him, to find that he was composed of gutta- 
percha, or something of that sort, and only coloured 
on the outside. He and Illinois listened to each 
other's stories with silent contempt ; in fact, they 
pretended not to listen at all, but at the same time 
each watched intently for the slightest halt in the 
other's narrative ; and while the Illinois man was 


only taking breath during some desperate struggle 
with the Mexicans, the hunter in a moment plunged 
right into the middle of a bear-story, and was half 
eaten up by a grizzly before we knew what he was 
talking about ; and as soon as ever that bear was 
disposed of, Illinois immediately went on with his 
story as if he had never been interrupted. 

The hunter had rather the best of it ; his yarns 
were uncommonly tough and hard of digestion, but 
there were no historical facts on record to bring 
against him. He had it all his own way, for the only 
witnesses of his exploits were the grizzlies, and he 
always managed to dispose of them very effectually 
by finishing their career along with his story. He 
showed several scars on different parts of his gutta- 
percha person which he received from the paws of 
the grizzlies, and he was not the sort of customer 
whose veracity one would care to question, especially 
as implicit faith so much increased one's interest in 
his adventures. One man nearly got into a scrape 
by laughing at the most thrilling part of one of his 
best stories. After firing twice at a bear without 
effect, the bear, infuriated by the balls planted in 
his carcass, was rushing upon him. He took to 
flight, and, loading as he ran, he turned and put a 
ball into the bear's left eye. The bear winked a 
good deal, but did not seem to mind it much he only 
increased his pace ; so the hunter, loading again, turned 
round and put a ball into his right eye; whereupon 
the bear, now winking considerably with both eyes, put 


his nose to the ground, and began to run him down by 
scent. At this critical moment, a great stupid-looking 
lout, who had been sitting all night with his eyes and 
mouth wide open, sucking in and swallowing every- 
thing that was said, had the temerity to laugh incre- 
dulously. The hunter flared up in a moment. " What 
are you a-laafin' at \ " he said. " D'ye mean to say I 

" Oh," said the other, " if you say it was so, I sup- 
pose it's all right ; you ought to know best. But I 
warn't laafin' at you; I was laafin' at the bar/' 

" What do you know about barsl" said the hunter, 
" Did you ever kill a bar?" 

The poor fellow had never killed a " bar," so the 
hunter snuffed him out with a look of utter contempt 
and pity, and went on triumphantly with his story, 
which ended in his getting up a tree, where he sat and 
peppered the bear as he went smelling round the 
stump, till he at last fell mortally wounded, with I 
don't know how many balls in his body. 

The grizzlies are the commonest kind of bear found 
in California, and are very large animals, weighing 
sometimes sixteen or eighteen hundred pounds. 

Hunting them is rather dangerous sport, as they are 
extremely tenacious of life, and when wounded inva- 
riably show fight. But unless molested they do not 
often attack a man ; in fact, they are hardly ever seen 
on the trails during the day. At night, however, they 
prowl about, and carry off whatever comes in their 
way. They had walked off with a young calf from 


this ranch, the night before, and the hunter was going 
out the next day to wreak his vengeance upon them. 
A grizzly is well worth killing, as he fetches a hundred 
dollars or more, according to his weight. The meat 
is excellent, but it needs to be well spiced, for in 
process of cooking it becomes saturated with bear's 
grease. In the mines, however, pomatum is an article 
unknown, and so no unpleasantly greasy ideas occur 
to one while dining off a good piece of grizzly bear. 

About ten o'clock, at the conclusion of a bear story, 
there was a general move towards one corner of the 
cabin where there were a lot of rifles, and where every 
man had thrown his roll of blankets. The floor was 
swept, and each one, choosing his own location, spread 
his blankets and lay down. Some slept in their boots, 
while others took them off, to put under their heads 
by way of pillows. I was one of the latter number, 
being rather partial to pillows ; and selecting a spot 
for my head, where it would be as far from other heads 
as possible, I lay down, and stretching out my feet 
promiscuously, I was very soon in the land of dreams, 
where I went through the whole Mexican campaign, 
and killed more " bars" than ever the hunter had seen 
in his life. 

People do not lie a-bed in the morning in California ; 
perhaps they would not anywhere, if they had no bet- 
ter beds than we had; so before daylight there was a 
general resurrection, and a very general ablution was 
performed in a tin basin which stood on a keg outside 
the cabin, alongside of which was a barrel of water. 


Over the basin hung a very small looking-glass, in 
which one could see one eye at a time; and attached 
to it by a long string was a comb for the use of those 
gentlemen who did not travel with their dressing- 

Some of the party, the warrior among the number, 
commenced the day by taking a gin cocktail, the 
hunter acting as bar -keeper, while his partner the 
cook, who had been up an hour before any of us 
chopping wood and lighting a fire, was laying the 
table for breakfast. 

Breakfast was an affair of but very few moments, 
and as soon as it was over, I set out in company with 
three or four of the party, who were going the same 

We crossed the north fork of the American Eiver 
at Kelly's Bar, a very rocky little place, covered with 
a number of dilapidated tents. We had the usual 
mountains to descend and ascend in crossing the 
river, but on gaining the summit we found our- 
selves again in a beautiful rolling country. Not 
far from the river was a very romantic little place 
called Illinoistown, consisting of three shanties and 
a saw-mill. The pine-trees in the neighbourhood were 
of an enormous size, and were being fast converted 
into lumber, which was in great demand for various 
mining operations, and sold at 120 dollars per thou- 
sand feet. We fared sumptuously on stewed squirrels 
at a solitary shanty in the forest a few miles farther on. 

These little wayside inns, or " ranches," as they are 

" RANCHES." 183 

usually called in the mines, are generally situated in 
a spot which offers some capabilities of cultivation, 
and where water, the great desideratum in the moun- 
tains, is to be had all the year. The owners employ 
themselves in fencing -in and clearing the land, and 
by degrees give the place an appearance of comfort 
and civilisation. One finds such places in all the 
different stages of improvement, from a small tent or 
log cabin, with the wild forest around it as yet undis- 
turbed, to good frame-houses with two or three 
rooms, a boarded floor, and windows, and sur- 
rounded by several acres of cleared land under cul- 

Oats and barley are the principal crops raised in 
the mountains. In some of the little valleys a 
species of wild oats, which makes excellent hay, 
grows very luxuriantly. In passing through one 
such place, where the grasshoppers were in clouds, 
we found a number of Indian squaws catching them 
with small nets attached to a short stick, in the style 
of an angler's landing-net. I believe they bruise 
them and knead them into a paste, somewhat of the 
consistency of potted shrimps ; it may be as palatable 
also, but I cannot speak from experience on that point. 
My companions, as we travelled on, branched off one 
by one to their respective destinations, and I was 
again alone when I got to the ranch where I in- 
tended to pass the night. It was somewhat the 
same style of thing as the Grizzly -Bear House, 
but the house was larger, and the accommodation 


more luxurious, inasmuch as we had canvass bunks 
or shelves to sleep upon. 

I went on next day along with a young miner 
from Georgia, who was also bound for Nevada. We 
dined at a place where we crossed Bear Eiver ; and a 
villanous bad dinner it was nothing but bad salt 
pork, bad pickled onions, and bad bread. 

On resuming our journey, we were joined by a man 
who said he always liked to have company on that 
road. Several robberies and murders had been com- 
mitted on it of late, and he very kindly pointed out 
to us, as we passed it, the exact spot where, a few 
days before, one man had been shot through the 
head, and another through the hat. One was robbed 
of seventy-five cents, the other of eight hundred 

It was a very romantic place, and well calculated for 
the operations of the gentlemen of the road, being a 
little hollow darkened by the spreading branches of 
a grove of oak-trees ; the underwood was thick and 
very high, and as the trail twisted round trees and 
bushes, a traveller could not see more than a few 
feet before or behind him. 'We had our revolvers 
in readiness ; but I was not very apprehensive, as 
three men, all showing pistols in their belts, are 
rather more than those ruffians generally care to 

We arrived at Nevada City between five and six 
o'clock, when I took a look round to find the most 
likely place for a good supper, being particularly 


ravenous after the long walk and the salt -pork 
dinner. I found a house bearing the sign of " Hotel 
de Paris," and my choice was made at once. As I 
had half an hour to wait for supper, I strolled about 
the town to see what sort of a place it was. It is 
beautifully situated on the hills bordering a small 
creek, and has once been surrounded by a forest of 
magnificent pine-trees, which, however, had been 
made to become useful instead of ornamental, and 
nothing now remained to show that they had existed 
but the numbers of stumps all over the hill-sides. 
The bed of the creek, which had once flowed past 
the town, was now choked up with heaps of "trail- 
ings" the washed dirt from which the gold has 
been extracted the white colour of the dirt render- 
ing it still more unsightly. All the water of the creek 
was distributed among a number of small troughs, 
carried along the steep banks on either side at dif- 
ferent elevations, for the purpose of supplying various 
quartz-mills and long-toms. 

The town itself or, I should say, the " City," for 
from the moment of its birth it has been called Nevada 
City is, like all mining towns, a mixture of staring 
white frame-houses, dingy old canvass booths, and 

The only peculiarity about the miners was the 
white mud with which they were bespattered, espe- 
cially those working in underground diggings, who 
were easily distinguished by the quantity of dry 
white mud on the tops of their hats. 


The supper at the Hotel de Paris was the best-got- 
up thing of the kind I had sat down to for some 
months. We began with soup rather flimsy stuff, 
but pretty good then bouilli, followed by filet-de- 
boeuf, with cabbage, carrots, turnips, and onions ; 
after that came what the landlord called a " god-dam 
rosbif," with green pease, and the whole wound up 
with a salad of raw cabbage, a cup of good coffee, 
and cognac. I did impartial justice to every depart- 
ment, and rose from table powerfully refreshed. 

The company were nearly all French miners, among 
whom was a young Frenchman whom I had known in 
San Francisco, and whom I hardly recognised in his 
miner's costume. 

We passed the evening together in some of the 
gambling rooms, where we heard pretty good music ; 
and as there were no sleeping quarters to be had at 
the house where I dined, I went to an American 
hotel close to it. It was in the usual style of a 
boarding-house in the mines, but it was a three- 
decker. All round the large sleeping-apartment were 
three tiers of canvass shelves, partitioned into spaces 
six feet long, on one of which I ]aid myself out, 
choosing the top tier in case of accidents. 

Next door was a large thin wooden building, in 
which a theatrical company were performing. They 
were playing Richard, and I could hear every word 
as distinctly as if I had been in the stage-box. I 
could even fancy I saw King Dick rolling his eyes 
about like a man in a fit, when he shouted for " A 


horse ! a horse !" The fight between Eichard and 
Eichmond was a very tame affair ; they hit hard while 
they were at it, but it was too soon over. It was one- 
two, one-two, a thrust, and down went Dick. I 
heard him fall, and could hear him afterwards gasp- 
ing for breath and scuffling about on the stage in his 
dying agonies. 

After King Eichard was disposed of, the orchestra, 
which seemed to consist of two fiddles, favoured us 
with a very miscellaneous piece of music. There 
was then an interlude performed by the audience, 
hooting, yelling, whistling, and stamping their feet; 
and that being over, the curtain rose, and we had 
Bombastes Furioso. It was very creditably per- 
formed, but, under the peculiar circumstances of the 
case, it did not sound to me nearly so absurd as the 

Some half-dozen men, the only occupants of the 
room besides myself, had been snoring comfortably 
all through the performances, and now about a dozen 
more came in and rolled themselves on to their 
respective shelves. They had been at the theatre, 
but I am sure they had not enjoyed it so much 
as I did. 



IN this part of the country the pine-trees are of an 
immense size, and of every variety. The most grace- 
ful is what is called the " sugar pine/' It is perfectly 
straight and cylindrical, with a comparatively smooth 
bark, and, till about four-fifths of its height from the 
ground, without a branch or even a twig. The 
branches then spread straight out from the stem, 
drooping a good deal at the extremities from the 
weight of the immense cones which they bear. These 
are about a foot and a half long, and under each leaf 
is a seed the size of a cherrystone, and which has a 
taste even sweeter than that of a filbert. The Indians 
are very fond of them, and make the squaws gather 
them for winter food. 

A peculiarity of the pine-trees in California is, 
that the bark, from within eight or ten feet of the 
ground up to where the branches commence, is com- 


pletely riddled with holes, such as might be made 
with musket-balls. They are, however, the work of 
the woodpeckers, who, like the Indians, are largely 
interested in the acorn crop. They are constantly 
making these holes, in each of which they stow away 
an acorn, leaving it as tightly wedged in as though it 
were driven in with a sledge-hammer. 

There were several quartz veins in the neighbour- 
hood of Nevada, some of which were very rich, and 
yielded a large amount of gold ; but, generally speak- 
ing, they were so unscientifically and unprofitably 
worked that they turned out complete failures. 

Quartz mining is a scientific operation, of which 
many of those who undertook to work the veins had 
no knowledge whatever, nor had they sufficient capi- 
tal to carry on such a business. The cost of erecting 
crushing -mills, and of getting the necessary iron 
castings from San Francisco, was very great. A vast 
deal of labour had to be gone through in opening 
the mine before any returns could be received ; and, 
moreover, the method then adopted of crushing the 
quartz and extracting the gold was so defective that 
not more than one half of it was saved. 

There is a variety of diggings here, but the richest 
are deep diggings in the hills above the town, and are 
worked by means of shafts, or coyote holes, as they 
are called. In order to reach the gold-bearing dirt, 
these shafts have to be sunk to the depth of nearly a 
hundred feet, which requires the labour of at least 
two men for a month or six weeks ; and when they 


have got down to the bottom, perhaps they may find 
nothing to repay them for their perseverance. 

The miners always calculate their own labour at 
five dollars a-day for every day they work, that being 
the usual wages for hired labour ; and if a man, after 
working for a month in sinking a hole, finds no pay- 
dirt at the bottom of it, he sets himself down as a 
loser of a hundred and fifty dollars. 

They make up heavy bills of losses against them- 
selves in this way, but still there are plenty of men who 
prefer devoting themselves to this speculative style 
of digging, in hopes of eventually striking a rich lead, 
to working steadily at surface diggings, which would 
yield them, day by day, sure though moderate pay. 

But mining of any description is more or less 
uncertain, and any man " hiring out/' as it is 
termed, steadily throughout the year, and pocketing 
his five dollars a-day, would find at the end of the 
year that he had done as well, perhaps, as the 
average of miners working on their own hook, who 
spend a considerable portion of their time in prospect- 
ing, and frequently, in order to work a claim which 
may afford them a month's actual washing, have to 
spend as long a time in stripping off top -dirt, digging 
ditches, or performing other necessary labour to get 
their claim into working order ; so that the daily 
amount of gold which a man may happen to be 
taking out, is not to be taken in itself as the measure 
of his prosperity. He may take a large sum out of a 
claim, but may also have spent as much upon it 


before he began to wash, and half the days of the 
year he may get no gold at all. 

There were plenty of men who, after two years' 
hard work, were not a bit better off than when they 
commenced, having lost in working one claim what 
they had made in another, and having frittered 
away their time in prospecting and wandering about 
the country from one place to another, always ima- 
gining that there were better diggings to be found 
than those they were in at the time. 

Under any circumstances, when a man can make 
ars much, or perhaps more, by working for himself, 
he has greater pleasure in doing so than in working 
for others ; and among men engaged in such an 
exciting pursuit as gold-hunting, constantly stimu- 
lated by the success of some one of their neighbours, 
it was only natural that they should be loth to 
relinquish their chance of a prize in the lottery, by 
hiring themselves out for an amount of daily wages, 
which was no more than any one, if he worked 
steadily, could make for himself. 

Those who did hire out were of two classes cold- 
blooded philosophers, who calculated the chances, and 
stuck to their theory unmoved by the temptations 
around them ; and men who had not sufficient in- 
ventive energy to direct their own labour and render 
it profitable. 

The average amount of gold taken out daily 
at that time by men who really did work, was, 
I should think, not less than eight dollars ; but 


the average daily yield of the mines to the actual 
population was probably not more than three or 
four dollars per head, owing to the great number of 
" loafers/' who did not work more than perhaps one 
day in the week, and spent the rest of their time in 
bar-rooms, playing cards and drinking whisky. They 
led a listless life of mild dissipation, for they never 
had money enough to get very drunk. They were 
always in debt for their board and their whisky at 
the boarding-house where they lived ; and when hard 
pressed to pay up, they would hire out for a day or 
two to make enough for their immediate wants, and 
then return to loaf away their existence in a bar- 
room, as long as the boarding-house keeper thought 
it advisable to give them credit. I never, in any 
part of the mines, was in a store or boarding-house 
that was not haunted by some men of this sort. 

Other men, with more ^energy in their dissipation, 
and old sailors especially, would have periodical 
bursts, more intense but of shorter duration. After 
mining steadily for a month or two, and saving their 
money, they would set to work to get rid of it as 
fast as possible. An old sailor went about it most sys- 
tematically. For the reason, as I supposed, that when 
going to have a " spree," he imagined himself to have 
come ashore off a voyage, he generally commenced 
by going to a Jew's slop-shop, where he rigged himself 
out in a new suit of clothes ; he would then go the 
round of all the bar-rooms in the place, and insist 
on every one he found there drinking with him, 


informing them at the same time (though it was 
quite unnecessary, for the fact was very evident) 
that he was "on the spree." Of course, he soon 
made himself drunk, but before being very far gone 
he would lose the greater part of his money to the 
gamblers. Cursing his bad luck, he would then 
console himself with a rapid succession of " drinks," 
pick a quarrel with some one who was not inter- 
fering with him, get a licking, and be ultimately 
rolled into a corner to enjoy the more passive phase 
of his debauch. On waking in the morning he 
would not give himself time to get sober, but would 
go at it again, and keep at it for a week most 
affectionately and confidentially drunk in the fore- 
noon, fighting drunk in the afternoon, and dead- 
drunk at night. The next week he would get 
gradually sober, and, recovering his senses, would 
return to his work without a cent in his pocket, but 
quite contented and happy, with his mind relieved 
at having had what he considered a good spree. 
Four or five hundred dollars was by no means an 
unusual sum for such a man to spend on an occasion 
of this sort, even without losing much at the 
gaming-table. The greater part of it went to the 
bar-keepers for " drinks," for the height of his enjoy- 
ment was every few minutes to ask half-a-dozen men 
to drink with him. 

The amount of money thus spent at the bars in 
the mines must have been enormous ; the system of 
" drinks" was carried still further than in San Fran- 



cisco ; and there were numbers of men of this de- 
scription who were fortunate in their diggings, and 
became possessed of an amount of gold of which 
they could not realise the value. They only knew the 
difference between having money and having none ; 
a hundred dollars was to them as good as a thousand, 
and a thousand was in their ideas about the same as 
a hundred. It did not matter how much they had 
saved ; when the time came for them to reward them- 
selves with a spree after a month or so of hard 
work, they made a clean sweep of everything, and 
spent their last dollar as readily as the first. 

I did not remain in Nevada, being anxious to get 
down to the Yuba before the rainy season should 
set in and put a stop to mining operations on the 

Foster's Bar, about thirty miles off, was the near- 
est point on the Yuba, and for this place I started. 
I was joined on leaving the town by a German, 
carrying his gun and powder-horn : he was a hunter 
by profession, as he informed me, having followed 
that business for more than a year, finding ready 
sale for his game in Nevada. 

The principal kinds of game in the mountains are 
deer, quail, hares, rabbits, and squirrels. The quails, 
which are very abundant, are beautiful birds, about 
the size of a pigeon, with a top-knot on their head ; 
they are always in coveys, and rise with a whirr like 

My hunting companion was at present going after 


deer, and, intending to stop out till he killed one, 
he carried his blanket and a couple of days' pro- 

I arrived about noon at a very pretty place called 
Hunt's Eanch. It was a large log-house, with several 
well-cultivated fields around it, in which a number 
of men were at work. At dinner here there was 
the most extensive set-out of vegetables I ever saw 
in the country, consisting of green pease, French 
beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, pump- 
kins, squash, and water-melons. It was a long time 
since I had seen such a display, and not knowing 
when I might have another opportunity, I pitched 
into them right and left. 

I was lighting my pipe in the bar-room after 
dinner, when a man walked in whom I recognised 
at once as one of my fellow-passengers from New 
York to Chagres. I was very glad to see him, as he 
was one of the most favourable specimens of that 
crowd ; and according to the custom of the country, 
we immediately ratified our renewed acquaintance 
in a brandy cocktail. He was returning to his dig- 
gings about ten miles off, and our roads being the 
same, we set out together. 

He gave me an account of his doings since he had 
been in the mines, from which he did not seem to 
have had much luck on his side, f<5r most of the 
money he had made he had lost in buying claims 
which turned out valueless. He had owned a share 
in a company which was working a claim on the Yuba, 

196 "PACKING." 

but had sold it for a mere trifle before it was 
ascertained whether the claim was rich or not, and 
it was now yielding 150 dollars a-day to the man. 

We crossed the Middle Yuba, a small stream, at 
Emery's Bridge, where my friend left me, and I went 
on alone, having six or seven miles to go to reach my 
resting-place for the night. 

I was now in a region of country so mountainous 
as to be perfectly impassable for wheeled vehicles. 
All supplies were brought to the various trading 
posts from Marysville on trains of pack-mules. 

" Packing," as it is called, is a large business. A 
packer has in his train from thirty to fifty mules, and 
four or five Mexicans to tend them mule-driving, 
or "packing," being one of the few occupations to 
which Mexicans devote themselves ; and at this they 
certainly do excel. Though generally a lazy, indolent 
people, it is astonishing what activity and energy 
they display in an employment which suits their 
fancy. They drive the mules about twenty-five miles 
a-day ; and in camping for the night, they have to 
select a place where there is water, and where there 
is also some sort of picking for the mules, which, in 
the dry season, when every blade of vegetation is 
burned up, is rather hard to find. 

I came across a train of about forty mules, under 
charge of four or five Mexicans, just as they were 
about to unpack, and make their camp. The spot 
they chose was a little grassy hollow in the middle of 
the woods, near which flowed a small stream of beauti- 


fully clear water. It was evidently a favourite 
camping-ground, from the numbers of signs of old 
fires. The mules seemed to know it too, for they all 
stopped and commenced picking the grass. The 
Mexicans, who were riding tough little Californian 
horses, immediately dismounted and began to unpack, 
working with such vigour that one might have thought 
they were doing it for a wager. 

Two men unpack a mule together. They first throw 
over his head a broad leathern belt, which hangs over 
his eyes to blind him and keep him quiet ; then, one 
man standing on each side, they cast off the numerous 
hide ropes with which the cargo is secured ; and when 
all is cast loose, each man removes his half of the 
cargo and places it on the ground. Another mule is 
then led up to the same spot, and unpacked in like 
manner ; the cargo being all ranged along the ground 
in a row, and presenting a very miscellaneous assort- 
ment of sacks of flour, barrels of pork or brandy, bags 
of sugar, boxes of tobacco, and all sorts of groceries 
and other articles. When all the cargoes have been 
unpacked, they then take off the aparejos, or large 
Mexican pack-saddles, examining the back of each 
mule to see if it is galled. The pack-saddles are all set 
down in a row parallel with the cargo, the girth and 
saddle-cloth of each being neatly folded and laid on 
the top of it. The place where the mules have been 
unpacked, between the saddles and the cargo, is 
covered with quantities of raw-hide ropes and other 
lashings, which are all coiled up and stowed away in 
a heap by themselves. 


Every mule, as his saddle is taken off, refreshes 
himself by rolling about in the dust ; and when all are 
unsaddled, the bell-horse is led away to water. The 
mules all follow him, and are left to their own de- 
vices till morning. 

The bell-horse of a train of mules is a very curious 
institution. He is generally an old white horse, with 
a small bell hung round his neck. He carries no 
cargo, but leads the van in tow of a Mexican. The 
mules will follow him through thick and thin, but 
without him they will not move a step. 

In the morning the mules are hunted up and driven 
into camp, when they are tied together in a row 
behind their pack-saddles, and brought round one by 
one to be saddled and packed. To pack a mule well, 
considerable art is necessary. His load must be so 
divided that there is an equal weight on each side, 
else the mule works at great disadvantage. If his load 
is not nicely balanced and tightly secured, he cannot 
so well pick his way along the steep mountain trails, 
and, as not unfrequently happens, topples over and 
rolls down to some place from which no mule returns. 



I ARRIVED about dusk at a ranch called the " Grass 
Valley House," situated in a forest of pines. It was 
a clapboard house, built round an old log-cabin which 
formed one corner of the building, and was now the 
private apartment of the landlord and his wife. I 
was here only six miles from Foster's Bar, and set out 
for that place in the morning ; but I made a mistake 
somewhere, and followed a wrong trail, which led me 
to a river, after walking six or seven miles without 
meeting any one of whom I could ascertain whether 
I was going right or not. The descent to the river 
was very steep, and as I went down I had misgivings 
that I was all wrong, and should have to come up 
again, but I expected at least to find some one there 
who could put me right. After scrambling down the 


best way I could, and reaching the river, I was dis- 
appointed to find nothing but the remains of an old 
tent ; there was not even a sign of any work having 
been done there. The river flowed among huge 
masses of rock, from which the banks rose so steep 
and rugged, that to follow the course of the stream 
seemed out of the question. I thought, however, 
that I could distinguish marks here and there on the 
rocks, as if caused by travelling over them, and these 
I followed with considerable difficulty for about half 
a mile, when they stopped at a place where the black- 
ened rocks, the remains of burned wood, and a lot of 
old sardine-boxes, showed that some one had been 
camped. Here I fancied I could make out a trail 
going straight up the face of the hill, on the same 
side of the river by which I had come down. It 
looked a hard road to travel, but I preferred trying 
it to retracing my steps, especially as I judged it 
would be a shorter way back to the house I had 
started from. 

I got on very well for a short distance, but very 
soon lost all sign of a trail. I was determined, how- 
ever, to make my way up, which I did by dint of 
catching hold of branches of trees and bushes ; and on 
my hands I had to place my greatest dependence, for 
the loose soil was covered with large stones, which 
gave way under my feet, and which I could hear 
rolling down far below me. Sometimes I came to a 
bare face of rock, up which I had to work my passage 
by means of the crevices and projecting ledges. It 


was useless to consider whether more formidable 
obstacles were still before me; my only chance was 
to go ahead, for if I had attempted to go down 
again, I should have found the descent rather too easy, 
and probably have broken my neck. It was dread- 
fully hot, and I was carrying my blankets slung over 
my shoulder, which, catching on trees and rocks, 
impeded my progress considerably ; and though I was 
in pretty good condition for this sort of work, I had 
several times to get astride of a tree and take a 

At last, after a great deal of scrambling and climb- 
ing, my shins barked, my clothes nearly torn off my 
back, and my eyes half scratched out by the bushes, 
completely blown, and suffocated with the heat, I 
arrived at a place where I considered that I had got 
over the worst of it, as the ascent seemed to become 
a little more practicable. I was dying of thirst, and 
would have given a very long price for a drink of 
water ; but the nearest water I expected to find was 
at a spring about five miles off, which I had passed 
in the morning. I could not help thinking what a 
delightful thing a quart pot of Bass's pale ale would 
be, with a lump of ice in it ; then I thought I would 
prefer a sherry cobbler, but I could not drink that 
fast enough ; and then it seemed that a quart pot of 
ale would not be enough, that I would like to drink 
it out of a bucket. I quaffed in imagination gigantic 
goblets, one after another, of all sorts of delicious 
fluids, but none of them did me any good ; and so I 


concluded that I had better think of something else 
till I reached the spring. 

The rest of the mountain was not very hard travel- 
ling, and when once on the top of the range, I struck 
off in a direction which I thought would hit my old 
trail. I very soon got on to it, and after half an 
hour's walking, I found the spring, where, as the Mis- 
sourians say, "you may just bet your life," I did 

It was about three o'clock, and I thought my safest 
plan was to return to the house I had started from 
in the morning, about six miles off, where, on my 
arrival, I learned that I had been misled by an Indian 
trail, and had travelled far out of the right direction. 
It was too late to make a fresh start that day, so I 
was doomed to pass another night here, and in the 
evening amused myself by sketching a train of pack- 
mules which had camped near the house. 

I was just setting off in the morning, when two or 
three men, who had seen me sketching the evening 
before, came and asked me to take their likenesses for 
them. As they were very anxious about it, I made 
them sit down, and very soon polished them all off, 
improving so much on their personal appearance, that 
they evidently had no idea before that they were such 
good-looking fellows, and expressed themselves highly 
satisfied. As I was finishing the last one, an old 
fellow came in, who, seeing what was up, was seized 
with a violent desire to have his sweet countenance 
" pictur'd off" likewise, to send to his wife. It struck 


me that his wife must be a woman of singular taste 
if she ever wished to see his face again. He was just 
about the ugliest man I ever saw in my life. He 
wanted to comb his hair, poor fellow, and make him- 
self look as presentable as possible ; but I had no 
mercy on him, and, making him sit down as he was, 
I did my best to represent him about fifty per cent 
uglier than he really was. He was in great distress 
that he had not better clothes on for the occasion ; 
so, to make up for caricaturing his features, I im- 
proved his costume, and gave him a very spicy black 
coat, black satin waistcoat, and very stiff stand-up 
collars. The fidelity of the likeness he never doubted, 
being so lost in admiration of his dress, that he seemed 
to think the face a matter of minor importance alto- 

I did not take many portraits in the mines ; but, 
from what little experience I had, I invariably found 
that men of a lower class wanted to be shown in the 
ordinary costume of the nineteenth century that is 
to say, in a coat, waistcoat, white shirt and neckcloth ; 
while gentlemen miners were anxious to appear in 
character, in the most ragged style of California dress. 

I went to Foster's Bar after dinner with a man 
who was on his way there from Downieville, a town 
about thirty miles up the river. He told me that he 
and his partner had gone there a few months before, 
and had worked together for some time, when they 
separated, his partner joining a company which had 
averaged a hundred dollars a-day to each man ever 


since, while my friend had bought a share in another 
company, and, after working hard for six weeks, had 
not, as he expressed it, made enough to pay for his 
grub. Such is mining. 

Foster's Bar is a place about half a mile long, with 
the appearance of having slipped down off the face of 
the mountains, and thus formed a flat along the side 
of the river. The village or camp consisted of a few 
huts and cabins ; and all around on the rocks, wherever 
it suited their convenience, were parties of miners 
camping out. 

I could only see one place which purported to be a 
hotel, and to it I went. It was a large canvass-house, 
the front part of which was the bar-room, and behind 
it the dining-room. Alongside of the former an addi- 
tion had been made as a sleeping-apartment, and here, 
when I felt inclined to turn in about ten o'clock, I 
was accommodated with a cot. 

A gambling-room in San Francisco is a tolerably 
quiet place, where little else is heard but good music 
or the chinking of dollars, and where, if it were neces- 
sary, one could sleep comfortably enough. But a 
gambling-room in a small camp in the mines is a very 
different affair. There not so much ceremony is 
observed, and the company are rather more apt to 
devote themselves to the social enjoyment of drink- 
ing, quarrelling, and kicking up a row generally. In 
this instance the uproar beat all my previous expe- 
rience, and sleeping was out of the question. The 
bar-room, I found, was also the gambling-room of the 


diggings. Four or five monte tables were in full blast, 
and the room was crowded with all the rowdies of the 
place. As the night wore on and the brandy began 
to tell, they seemed to be having a general fight, and 
I half expected to see some of them pitched through 
the canvass into the sleeping apartment ; or perhaps 
pistols might be used, in which case I should have 
had as good a chance of being shot as any one else. 

I managed to drop off asleep during a lull in the 
storm ; but when I awoke at daylight, it was only 
then finally subsiding. I found that some man had 
broken a monte bank, and, on the strength of his good 
fortune, had been treating the company to an unli- 
mited supply of brandy all night, which fully account- 
ed for the row ; but I did not fancy such sleeping- 
quarters, and made up my mind to camp out while I 
remained in those diggings. 

I selected a very pretty spot at the foot of a ravine, 
in which was a stream of water; and, buying a tin 
coffee-pot and some tea and sugar, I was completely 
set up. There was a baker and butcher in the camp, 
so I had very little trouble in my cooking arrange- 
ments, having merely to boil my pot, and then raking 
down the fire with my foot, lay a steak on the embers. 

The weather was very hot and dry; but it was 
getting late in the season, and I generally awoke in 
the morning like the flowers the Irishman sings about 
to Molly Bawn, " with their rosy faces wet with dew." 
At least as far as the dew is concerned for a rosy face 
is a thing not seen in the mines, the usual colour of 


men's faces being a good standard leathery hue, a very 
little lighter than that of a penny-piece all rosiness 
of cheek, where it ever existed, is driven out by the 
hot sun and dry atmosphere. 

I found camping out a very pleasant way of living. 
With my blankets I made a first-rate awning during 
the day ; and if I could not boast of a bed of roses, I 
at least had one of dahlias, for numbers of large flowers 
of that species grew in great profusion all round my 
camp, and these I was so luxurious as to pluck and 
strew thickly on the spot where I intended to sleep. 

I remained here for about three weeks ; and for two 
or three mornings before I left, I woke finding my 
blankets quite white with frost. On such occasions 
I was more active than usual in lighting my fire and 
getting my coffee-pot under a full head of steam; but 
as soon as ever the sun was up, the frost was imme- 
diately dispelled, and half an hour after sunrise one 
was glad to get into the shade. 

On leaving Foster's Bar, I went to a place a few 
miles up the river, where some miners were at work, 
who had asked me to visit their camp. The river 
here flowed through a narrow rocky gorge (a sort of 
place which, in California, is called by its Spanish 
name a " canon"), and was flumed for a distance of 
nearly half a mile ; that is to say, it was carried past 
in an aqueduct supported on uprights, being raised 
from its natural bed, which was thus laid bare and 
rendered capable of being worked. It was late when 
I arrived, and the party of miners had just stopped 


work for the day. Some were taking off their wet 
boots, and washing their faces in the river; others 
were lighting their pipes or cutting up tobacco ; and 
the rest were collected round the fire, making bets as 
to the quantity of gold which was being dried in an 
old frying-pan. This was the result of their day's 
work, and weighed four or five pounds. The banks 
of the river were so rough and precipitous that, for 
want of any level space on which to camp, they had 
been obliged to raise a platform of stone and gravel. 
On this stood a tent about twenty feet long, which 
was strewed inside with blankets, boots, hats, old 
newspapers, and such articles. In front of the tent 
was a long rough table, on each side of which a young 
pine-tree, with two or three legs stuck into it here and 
there, did duty as a bench, some of the bark having 
been chipped off the top side, by way of making it an 
easy seat. At the foot of the rocks, close to the table, 
an immense fire was blazing, presided over by a darky, 
who was busy preparing supper; for where so many 
men messed together, it was economy to have a pro- 
fessional cook, though his wages were frequently higher 
than those paid to a miner. A quarter of beef hung 
from the limb of a tree ; and stowed away, in beautiful 
confusion, among the nooks and crannies of the rocks, 
were sacks, casks, and boxes containing various articles 
of provisions. 

Within a few feet of us, and above the level of the 
camp, the river rushed past in its wooden bed, spin- 
ning round, as it went, a large water-wheel, by means 


of which a constant stream of water was pumped up 
from the diggings and carried off in the flume. The 
company consisted of eight members. They were all 
New Yorkers, and had been brought up to professional 
and mercantile pursuits. The rest of the party were 
their hired men, who, however, were upon a perfect 
social equality with their employers. 

When it was time to turn in, I was shown a space 
on the gravelly floor of the tent, about six feet by 
one and a half, where I might stretch out and dream 
that I dwelt in marble halls. About a dozen men slept 
in the tent, the others lying outside on the rocks. 

My intention was from this camp to go on to Downie- 
ville, about forty miles up the river ; but I had first to 
return to Foster's Bar for some drawing-paper which 
I had ordered from Sacramento. 

On my way I passed a most romantic little bridge, 
formed by two pine trees, which had been felled so as 
to span a deep and thickly wooded ravine. I sat 
down among the bushes a short distance off the trail, 
and was making a sketch of the place, when presently 
a man came along riding on a mule. I was quite aware 
that I should have a very suspicious appearance to a 
passer-by, and I was in hopes he might not observe me. 
I had no object in speaking to him, especially as, had 
I hailed him from my ambuscade, he might have been 
apt to reply with his revolver. 

Just as he was passing, however, and when all I 
could see of him was his head and shoulders, his eyes 
wandered over the bank at the side of the trail, and 


he caught sight of my head looking down on him over 
the tops of the bushes. He gave a start, as I expected 
he would, and addressed me with " Good morning, 
Colonel." My promotion to the rank of colonel I 
most probably owed to the fact that he thought it 
advisable, under the circumstances, to be as concilia- 
tory as possible until he knew my intentions. I saw 
a good deal of the same man afterwards, but he never 
again raised me above the rank of captain. I replied 
to his salutation, and he then asked the very natural 
question, "What are ye a-doin of over there 1" I 
gave an account of myself, which he did not seem to 
think altogether satisfactory, but, after making some 
remark on the weather, he passed on. 

About an hour later, when I arrived at Foster's 
Bar, I found him sitting in a store with some half- 
dozen miners, to whom he had been recounting how 
he had seen a man concealed in the bushes off the 
trail. He expressed himself as having been " awful 
skeered," and said that he had his pistol out, and was 
thinking of shooting all the time he was speaking to 
me. I told him I had mine lying by my side, and 
would have returned the compliment, when, by way 
of showing me what sort of a chance I should have 
stood, he stuck up a card on a tree at about twenty 
paces, and put six balls into it one after another out 
of his heavy navy revolver. I confessed I could not 
beat such shooting as that, and was very well pleased 
that he had not taken it into his head to make a 

target of me. 



It seemed that lie was an express carrier, and as 
his partner had been robbed but a few days before, 
very near the place of our meeting, his suspicions of 
me were not at all unreasonable. 

I was very desirous of seeing a friend of mine who 
was mining at a place about twenty miles off, so, 
having hired a mule for the journey, I set off early 
next morning, intending to return the same night. 
My way was through a part of the country very 
little travelled, and the trails were consequently very 
indistinct, but I got full directions how to find my 
way, where to leave the main trail, which side to 
take at a place where the trail forked, where I should 
cross another, and so on ; also where I should pass an 
old cabin, a forked pine-tree, and other objects, by 
which I might know that I was on the right road. 

The man who gave me my directions said he hardly 
expected that I would be able to keep the right trail. 
I had some doubts about it myself, but I was deter- 
mined to try at all events, and for seven or eight 
miles I got along very well, knowing I was right by 
the landmarks which I had passed. 

The numbers of Indian trails, however, branching 
off to right and left were very confusing, being not 
a bit less indistinct than the trail I was endea- 
vouring to follow. At last I felt certain that I had 
gone wrong, but as I fancied I was not going far 
out of the right direction, I kept on, and shortly 
afterwards came upon a small camp called Toole's 
Diggings. I was told here that I had only come five 


miles out of my way ; and after dining and getting some 
fresh directions, I set out again. Having ridden for 
nearly an hour, I came to an Indian camp, situated by 
the side of a small stream in a very dense part of the 
forest. At first I could see no one but some children 
amusing themselves with a swing hung from a branch 
of an oak tree, but as I was going past, a number of 
Indians came running out from their brush huts. 
They were friendly Indians, and had picked up a few 
words of English from loafing about the camps of the 
miners. The usual style of salutation to them is, 
" How d'ye do?" to which they reply in the same 
words ; but if you repeat the question, as if you really 
wanted to know the state of their health, they invari- 
ably answer " fuss-rate." Accordingly, having ascer- 
tained that they were all " fuss-rate/' I mixed up a 
little broken English, some mongrel Spanish, and a 
word or two of Indian, and made inquiries as to my 
way. In much the same sort of language they 
directed me how to go ; and though they seemed dis- 
posed to prolong the conversation, I very quickly 
bade them adieu and moved on, not being at all 
partial to such company. 

I followed the dim trail up hill and down dale for 
several hours without seeing a human being, and I 
felt quite satisfied that I was again off my road, but 
I pushed on in hopes of reaching some sort of habita- 
tion before dark. At last, in travelling up the side 
of a small creek, just as the sun was taking leave of 
us, I caught sight of a log-cabin among the pine- 


trees. It seemed to have been quite recently built, 
so I was pretty sure it was inhabited, and on riding 
up I found two men in it, from whom I learned that 
I was still five miles from my destination. They 
recommended me to stop the night with them, as it 
was nearly dark, and the trail was hard enough to find 
by daylight. 

I saw no help for it ; so, after staking out the mule 
where he could pick some green stuff, I joined my 
hosts, who were just sitting down to supper. It was 
not a very elaborate affair nothing but tea and ham. 
They apologised for the meagreness of the turn-out, 
and especially for the want of bread, saying that they 
had been away for a couple of days, and on their 
return found that the Indians had taken the oppor- 
tunity to steal all their flour. 

We made the most of what we had, however, and 
putting a huge log on the fire, we lighted our pipes, 
and my entertainers, producing two violins, favoured 
me with a selection of Nigger melodies. 

They had been mining lately at the place which I 
had been trying to reach all day, and in the course of 
conversation I found that I had had all my trouble for 
nothing, as the man whom I was in search of had a 
few days before left the diggings for San Francisco. 

The next morning I returned to Foster's Bar, my 
friends putting me on a much shorter trail than the 
roundabout road I had travelled the day before. 



FEOM Foster's Bar I set out for Downieville. 

On leaving the river, I had as usual a long hill 
to climb, but once on the top, the trail followed the 
backbone of the ridge, and was comparatively easy 
to travel. It was the main " pack-trail" to Downie- 
ville, and, being travelled by all the trains of pack- 
mules, was nearly ankle-deep in dust. The soil of 
the California mountains is generally very red and 
sterile, and has the property of being easily con- 
verted into exceedingly fine dust, as red as brick- 
dust, or into equally fine mud, according to the 
season of the year. At the end of a day's journey 
in summer, the colour of a man's face is hardly 
discernible through the thick coating of dust, which 
makes him look more like a red Indian than a white 

The scenery was very beautiful. The pine-trees 
were not too numerous to interrupt the view, and 


the ridge was occasionally so narrow that, on either 
hand, looking over the tops of the trees down below, 
there was a vast panorama of pine-clad mountains, 
on one side gradually diminishing, till, at a distance 
of forty or fifty miles, they merged imperceptibly 
into the plains, which, with the hazy heated atmos- 
phere upon them, looked like a calm ocean ; while, 
on the other side, one mountain -ridge appeared 
above another, more barren as they became more 
lofty, till at last they faded away into a few hardly 
discernible snowy peaks. It was a pleasing change 
when sometimes a break occurred in the ridge, and 
the trail dipped into a dark shady hollow, and, wind- 
ing its way through the dense mass of underwood, 
crossed a little stream of water, and, leading up the 
opposite bank, gained once more the open ground on 
the summit. I travelled about fifteen miles without 
meeting any one, and arrived at Slate Kange House, 
a solitary cabin, so called from being situated at the 
spot where one begins to descend to Slate Eange, a 
place where the banks of the river are composed of 
huge masses of slate. I dined here, and shortly 
afterwards overtook a little Englishman, whose Eng- 
lish accent sounded very refreshing. He had been 
in the country since before the existence of gold was 
discovered ; but from his own account he did not 
seem to have profited much in his gold-hunting 
exploits from having had such a good start. 

I stopped all night at Oak Valley, a small camp, 
consisting of three cabins and a hotel, and in the 


morning I resumed my journey in company with 
two miners, who had a pack-horse loaded with their 
mining-tools, their pots and pans, their blankets, and 
all the rest of it. The horse, however, did not seem 
to approve of the arrangement, for, after having gone 
about a couple of miles, he wheeled round, and set off 
back again through the woods as hard as he could 
split, the pots and pans banging against his ribs, 
and making a fearful clatter. My companions 
started in chase of their goods and chattels ; but 
thinking the pair of them quite a match for the 
old horse, and not caring how the race turned out, 
I left them to settle it among themselves, and went 
on my way. 

I met several trains of pack-mules, the jingling of 
the bell on the bell-horse, and the shouts of the 
Mexican muleteers, generally announcing their ap- 
proach before they come in sight. They were re- 
turning to Marysville ; and as they have no cargo to 
bring down from the mines, the mules were jogging 
along very cheerily : when loaded, they relieve their 
feelings by grunting and groaning at every step. 

The next place I came to was a ranch called the 
" Nigger Tent." It was originally a small tent, kept 
by an enterprising Nigger for the accommodation of 
travellers ; but as his fortunes prospered, he had built 
a very comfortable cabin, which, however, retained 
the name of the old establishment. 

In the afternoon I arrived at the place where the 
trail leaves the summit of the range, and commences 


to wind down the steep face of the mountain to 
Downieville. There was a ranch and a spring of 
deliciously cold water, which was very acceptable, as 
the last ten miles of my journey had been up hill 
nearly all the way, and the heat was intense, but not 
a drop of water was to be found on the road. 

I overtook two or three miners on their way to 
Downieville, and went on in company with them. 
As we descended, we got an occasional view be- 
tween the pine-trees of the little town far down 
below us, so completely surrounded by mountains 
that it seemed to be at the bottom of an immense 
hole in the ground. 

I had heard so much of Downieville, that on 
reaching the foot of the mountain I was rather dis- 
appointed at first to find it apparently so small a 
place, but I very soon discovered that there was a 
great deal compressed into a small compass. There 
was only one street in the town, which was three or 
four hundred yards long ; indeed, the mountain at 
whose base it stood was so steep that there was not 
room for more than one street between it and the 

This was the depot, however, for the supplies of a 
very large mining population. All the miners within 
eight or ten miles depended on Downieville for their 
provisions, and the street was consequently always a 
scene of bustle and activity, being crowded with trains 
of pack-mules and their Mexican drivers. 

The houses were nearly all of wood, many of them 


well-finished two-storey houses, with columns and 
verandahs in front. The most prominent places in 
the town were of course the gambling saloons, fitted 
up in the usual style of showy extravagance, with the 
exception of the mirrors ; for as everything had to be 
brought seventy or eighty miles over the mountains 
on the backs of mules, very large mirrors were a 
luxury hardly attainable ; an extra number of smaller 
ones, however, made up for the deficiency. There 
were several very good hotels, and two or three French 
restaurants ; the other houses in the town were nearly 
all stores, the mining population living in tents and 
cabins, all up and down the river. 

I put up at a French house, which was kept in very- 
good style by a pretty little Frenchwoman, and had 
quite the air of being a civilised place. I was accom- 
modated with half of a bedroom, in which there was 
hardly room to turn round between the two beds; but 
I was so accustomed to rolling myself in my blankets 
and sleeping on the ground, or on the rocks, or at best 
being stowed away on a shelf with twenty or thirty 
other men in a large room, that it seemed to me most 
luxurious quarters. The salle a manger was under- 
neath me, and as the floor was very thin, I had the 
full benefit of all the conversation of those who in- 
dulged in late suppers, whilst next door was a ten-pin 
alley, in which they were banging away at the pins 
all night long; but such trifles did not much dis- 
turb my slumbers. 

There was no lack of public amusements in the 


town. The same company which I had heard in 
Nevada were performing in a very comfortable little 
theatre not a very highly decorated house, but laid 
out in the orthodox fashion, with boxes, pit, and gal- 
lery and a company of American glee-singers, who 
had been concertising with great success in the various 
mining towns, were giving concerts in a large room 
devoted to such purposes. Their selection of songs 
was of a decidedly national character, and a lady, one 
of their party, had won the hearts of all the miners 
by singing very sweetly a number of old familiar 
ballads, which touched the feelings of the expatriated 

I was present at their concert one night, when, at 
the close of the performance, a rough old miner stood 
up on his seat in the middle of the room, and after a 
few preliminary coughs, delivered himself of a very 
elaborate speech, in which, on behalf of the miners of 
Downieville, he begged to express to the lady their 
great admiration of her vocal talents, and in token 
thereof begged her acceptance of a purse containing 
500 dollars' worth of gold specimens. Compliments 
of this sort, which the Scotch would call " wiselike," 
and which the fair cantatrice no doubt valued as 
highly as showers of the most exquisite bouquets, had 
been paid to her in most of the towns she had visited 
in the mines. Some enthusiastic miners had even 
thrown specimens to her on the stage. 

Downieville is situated at what is called the Forks 
of the Yuba Eiver, and the town itself was frequently 

THE FORKS." 219 

spoken of as " The Forks' 7 in that part of the country. 
It may be necessary to explain that, in talking of 
the forks of a river in California, one is always sup- 
posed to be going up the river ; the forks are its 
tributaries. The main rivers received their names, 
which they still retain, from the Spaniards and In- 
dians ; and the first gold-hunting pioneers, in explor- 
ing a river, when they came to a tributary, called one 
branch the north, and the other the south fork. When 
one of these again received a tributary, it either con- 
tinued to be the north or south fork, or became the 
middle fork, as the case might be. 

If a river was never to have more than two tribu- 
taries, this would do very well, but the river above 
Downieville kept on forking about every half-a-mile, 
and the branches were all named on the same prin- 
ciple, so that there were half-a-dozen north, middle, 
and south forks. 

The diggings at Downieville were very extensive ; 
for many miles above it on each fork there were num- 
bers of miners working in the bed and the banks of 
the river. The mountains are very precipitous, and 
the only communication was by a narrow trail which 
had been trodden into the hillside, and crossed from 
one side of the river to the other, as either happened 
to be more practicable ; sometimes following the rocky 
bed of the river itself, and occasionally rising over 
high steep bluffs, where it required a steady head and 
a sure foot to get along in safety. 

One spot in particular was enough to try the 


nerve of any one but a chamois -hunter. It was a 
high bluff, almost perpendicular, round which the river 
made a sweep, and the only possible way of passing 
it was by a trail about eighty feet above the river. 
The trail hardly deserved the name it was merely a 
succession of footsteps, sometimes a few inches of a 
projecting rock, or a root. Two men could pass each 
other with difficulty, and only at certain places, by 
holding on to each other; and from the trail to the 
river all was clear and smooth, not a tree or a bush 
to save one if he happened to miss his footing. At 
one spot there was an indentation in the precipice, 
where the rock was quite perpendicular : to get over 
this difficulty, a young pine-tree was laid across by 
way of a bridge ; it was only four or five inches in 
diameter, and lay nearly a couple of feet outside of 
the rock. In passing, one only rested one foot on 
the tree, and with the other took advantage of the 
inequalities in the face of the rock ; while looking 
down to see where to put one's feet, one saw far 
below, between his outstretched legs, the most unin- 
viting jagged rocks, strongly suggestive of sudden 

The miners had given this place the name of Cape 
Horn. Those who were camped on the river above 
it, were so used to it that they passed along with a 
hop, step, and a jump, though carrying a week's provi- 
sions on their backs, but a great many men had fallen 
over, and been instantly killed on the rocks below. 

The last victim, at the time I was there, was a 

"CAPE HORN." 221 

Frenchman, who very foolishly set out to return to 
his camp from Downieville after dark, having to pass 
this place on the way. He had taken the precaution 
to provide himself with a candle and some matches 
to light him round the Cape, but he was found dead 
on the rocks the next morning. 



A FEW weeks before my arrival there, Downieville 
had been the scene of great excitement on one of 
those occasions when the people took on themselves 
the administration and execution of justice. 

A Mexican woman one forenoon had, without pro- 
vocation, stabbed a miner to the heart, killing him on 
the spot. The news of the murder spread rapidly up 
and down the river, and a vast concourse of miners 
immediately began to collect in the town. 

The woman, an hour or two after she committed 
the murder, was formally tried by a jury of twelve, 
found guilty, and condemned to be hung that after- 
noon. The case was so clear that it admitted of no 
doubt, several men having been witnesses of the 
whole occurrence ; and the woman was hung accord- 
ingly, on the bridge in front of the town, in presence 
of many thousand people. 


For those whose ideas of the proper mode of ad- 
ministering criminal law are only acquired from an 
acquaintance with the statistics of crime and its 
punishment in such countries as England, where a 
single murder excites horror throughout the kingdom, 
and is for days a matter of public interest, where 
judicial corruption is unknown, where the instruments 
of the law are ubiquitous, and its action all but infal- 
lible, for such persons it may be difficult to realise 
a state of things which should render it necessary, or 
even excusable, that any number of irresponsible in- 
dividuals should exercise a power of life and death 
over their fellow-men. 

And no doubt many sound theories may be 
brought forward against the propriety of adminis- 
tering Lynch law ; but California, in the state of 
society which then existed, and in view of the total 
inefficiency, or worse than inefficiency, of the estab- 
lished courts of justice, was no place for theorising 
upon abstract principles. Society had to protect 
itself by the most practical and unsophisticated 
system of retributive justice, quick in its action, and 
whose operation, being totally divested of all mystery 
and unnecessary ceremony, was perfectly compre- 
hensible to the meanest understanding a system 
inconsistent with public safety in old countries un- 
necessary, in fact, where the machinery of the law is 
perfect in all its parts but at the same time one 
which men most naturally adopt in the absence of 
all other protection ; and any one who lived in the 


mines of California at that time is bound gratefully 
to acknowledge that the feeling of security of life and 
person which he there enjoyed was due in a great 
measure to his knowledge of the fact that this 
admirable institution of Lynch law was in full and 
active operation. 

There were in California the elite of the most 
desperate and consummate scoundrels from every 
part of the world; and the unsettled state of the 
country, the wandering habits of the mining popula- 
tion, scattered, as they were, all over the mountains, 
and frequently carrying an amount of gold on their 
persons inconvenient from its very weight, together 
with the isolated condition of many individuals, 
strangers to every one around them, and who, if put 
out of the way, would never have been missed all 
these things tended apparently to render the country 
one where such ruffians would have ample room to 
practise their villany. But, thanks to Lynch law, 
murders and robberies, numerous as they were, were 
by no means of such frequent occurrence as might 
have been expected, considering the opportunities 
and temptations afforded to such a large proportion 
of the population, who were only restrained from 
violence by a wholesome regard for the safety of their 
own necks. 

And after all, the fear of punishment of death 
is the most effectual preventive of crime. To the 
class of men among whom murderers are found, it is 
probably the only feeling which deters them, and its 


influence is unconsciously felt even by those whose 
sense of right and wrong is not yet so dead as to allow 
them to contemplate the possibility of their commit- 
ting a murder. In old States, however, fear of the 
punishment of death does not act with its full force 
on the mind of the intending criminal, for the idea of 
the expiation of his crime on the scaffold has to be 
preceded in his imagination by all the mysterious and 
tedious formalities of the law, in the uncertainty of 
which he is apt to flatter himself that he will by some 
means get an acquittal ; and even if convicted, the 
length of time which must elapse before his ultimate 
punishment, together with the parade and circum- 
stance with which it is attended, divests it in a great 
measure of the feelings of horror which it is intended 
to arouse. 

But when Lynch law prevails, it strikes terror to 
the heart of the evil-doer. He has no hazy and un- 
defined view of his ultimate fate in the distant future, 
but a vivid picture is before him of the sure and 
speedy consequence of crime. The formalities and 
delays of the law, which are instituted for the protec- 
tion of the people, are for the same reason abolished, 
and the criminal knows that, instead of being tried 
by the elaborate and intricate process of law, his very 
ignorance of which leads him to over-estimate his 
chance of escape, he will have to stand before a tri- 
bunal of men, who will try him, not by law, but by 
hard, straightforward common-sense, and from whom 

he can hope for no other verdict than that which his 



own conscience awards him ; while execution follows 
so close upon sentence, that it forms, as it were, but 
part of the same ceremony : for Californians were 
eminently practical and earnest ; what they meant to 
do they did "right off," with all their might, and 
as if they really meant to do it ; and Lynch law was 
administered with characteristic promptness and de- 
cision. Sufficient time, however, or at least what was 
considered to be sufficient time, was always granted to 
the criminal to prepare for death. Very frequently 
he was not hanged till the day after his trial. 

An execution, of course, attracted an immense 
crowd, but it was conducted with as little parade as 
possible. Men were hung in the readiest way which 
suggested itself on a bough of the nearest tree, or 
on a tree close to the spot where the murder was com- 
mitted. In some instances the criminal was run up 
by a number of men, all equally sharing the hang- 
man's duty ; on other occasions, one man was ap- 
pointed to the office of executioner, and a drop was 
extemporised by placing the culprit on his feet on the 
top of an empty box or barrel, under the bough of a 
tree, and at the given signal the box was knocked 
away from under him. 

Not an uncommon mode was, to mount the crimi- 
nal on a horse or mule, when, after the rope was ad- 
justed, a cut of a whip was administered to the back 
of the animal, and the man was left suspended. 

Petty thefts, which were of very rare occurrence, 
were punished by so many lashes with a cow-hide, 


and the culprit was then banished the camp. A man 
who would commit a petty theft was generally such 
a poor miserable devil as to excite compassion more 
than any other feeling, and not unfrequently, after 
his chastisement, a small subscription was raised for 
him, to help him along till he reached some other 

Theft or robbery of any considerable amount, how- 
ever, was a capital crime ; and horse-stealing, to which 
the Mexicans more particularly devoted themselves, 
was invariably a hanging matter. 

Lynch law had hitherto prevailed only in the mines ; 
but about this time it had been found necessary to 
introduce it also in San Francisco. The number of 
murders and robberies committed there had of late 
increased to an alarming extent ; and from the laxity 
and corruption of those intrusted with the punish- 
ment and prevention of crime, the criminal part of 
the population carried on their operations with such 
a degree of audacity, and so much apparent confidence 
in the impunity which they enjoyed, that society, in 
the total inefficiency of the system which it had insti- 
tuted for its defence and preservation, threatened to 
become a helpless prey to the well-organised gang of 
ruffians who were every day becoming more insolent 
in their career. 

At last human nature could stand it no longer, and 
the people saw the necessity of acting together in self- 
defence. A Committee of Vigilance was accordingly 
formed, composed chiefly of the most prominent and 


influential citizens, and which had the cordial approval, 
and the active support, of nearly the entire population 
of the city. 

The first action of the Committee was to take two 
men out of gaol who had already been convicted of 
murder and robbery, but for the execution of whose 
sentence the experience of the past afforded no gua- 
rantee. These two men, when taken out of the gaol, 
were driven in a coach and four at full gallop through 
the town, and in half an hour they were swinging 
from the beams projecting over the windows of the 
store which was used as the committee-rooms. 

The Committee, during their reign, hanged four 
or five men, all of whom, by their own confessions, 
deserved hanging half-a-dozen times over. Their 
confessions disclosed a most extensive and wealthy 
organisation of villany, in which several men of com- 
paratively respectable position were implicated. These 
were the projectors and designers of elaborate schemes 
of wholesale robbery, which the more practical mem- 
bers of the profession executed under their superin- 
tendence ; and in the possession of some of these men 
there were found exact plans of the stores of many of 
the wealthiest merchants, along with programmes of 
robberies to come off. 

The operations of the Committee were not confined 
to hanging alone ; their object was to purge the city 
of the whole herd of malefactors which infested it. 
Most of them, however, were panic-struck at the first 
alarm of Lynch law, and fled to the mines; but many 


of those who were denounced in the confessions of 
their brethren were seized by the Committee, and 
shipped out of the country. Several of the most dis- 
tinguished scoundrels were graduates from our penal 
colonies ; and to put a stop, if possible, to the further 
immigration of such characters, the Committee boarded 
every ship from New South Wales as she arrived, and 
satisfied themselves of the respectability of each pas- 
senger before allowing him to land. 

The authorities, of course, were greatly incensed at 
the action of the Vigilance Committee in taking from 
them the power they had so badly used, but they 
could do nothing against the unanimous voice of the 
people, and had to submit with the best grace they 

The Committee, after a very short but very active 
reign, had so far accomplished their object of suppress- 
ing crime, and driving the scum of the population out 
of the city, that they resigned their functions in favour 
of the constituted authorities ; at the same time, how- 
ever, intimating that they remained alert, and only 
inactive so long as the ordinary course of law was 
found effectual. 

From that time till the month of May 1856 the 
Vigilance Committee did not interfere ; and to any 
one familiar with the history of San Francisco during 
this period, it will appear extraordinary that the 
people should have remained so long inactive under 
the frightful mal-administration of criminal law to 
which they were subjected. 


The crime which at last roused the people from 
their apathy, but which was not more foul than 
hundreds which had preceded it, and only more ag- 
gravated, inasmuch as the victim was one of the most 
universally respected citizens of the State, was the 
assassination, in open day and in the public street, of 
Mr James King, of William, by a man named Casey. 

The causes which had gradually been driving 
the people to assert their own power, as they did on 
this occasion, differed very materially from those which 
gave birth to the Vigilance Committee of '51, when 
their object was merely to root out a gang of house- 

To explain the necessity of the revolution which 
took place in San Francisco in May '56 would re- 
quire a dissertation on San Francisco politics, which 
might not be very interesting ; suffice it to say, that 
the power of controlling the elections had gradually got 
into the hands of men who " stuffed " the ballot-boxes, 
and sold the elections to whom they pleased; and 
the natural consequences of such a state of things led 
to the revolution. 

In the Alta California of San Francisco of the 1st 
of June is a short article, which gives such a complete 
idea of the state of affairs that I take the liberty to 
transcribe it. It is written when the Vigilance Com- 
mittee, having, a day or two before, hanged two men, 
are still actively engaged making numerous arrests ; 
and it is remarkable that just at this time the autho- 
rities actually hang a man too. 

OF MAY 1856. 231 

The Alta announces the fact in the following 
article : 

" A man was executed yesterday for murder, after 
a due compliance with all the forms of law. 

" That he had been guilty of the crime for which 
he suffered there can be no doubt ; and yet it is 
entirely probable that, but for the circumstances 
which have occurred in San Francisco within the 
past three weeks, he never would have paid to the 
offended law the penalty affixed to his crime. 

" It is a very remarkable fact in the history of this 
execution, that the condemned man, at the time of 
the murder of Mr King, was living only under the 
respite of the Governor, and that that respite was 
obtained through the active interposition of Casey, 
who little dreamed that he would suffer the death- 
penalty before the man whom he had laboured to 

" This is the third execution only, under the forms 
of law, which has ever been had in San Francisco 
since it became an American city. Murder after 
murder has been committed, and murderer after 
murderer has been arrested and tried. Those who 
were blessed with friends and money have usually 
succeeded in escaping through the forms of law be- 
fore a conviction was reached. Those who failed in 
this respect have, with the exceptions we have stated, 
been saved from punishment through the unwarranted 
interference of the executive officer of the State. So 
murder has enjoyed in San Francisco almost a certain 


immunity from punishment; and the consequence 
has been, that it has stalked abroad high-handed and 
bold. Over a year ago, we understood the district 
attorney to state, in an argument before a jury in a 
murder case, that, since the settlement of San Fran- 
cisco by the American people, there had been twelve 
hundred murders committed here. We thought at 
the time the number stated was unduly large, and 
think so still ; but it has been large enough, beyond 
doubt, to give us the unenviable reputation we have 
obtained abroad. 

" And yet, in spite of these facts, but three criminals 
have suffered the death-penalty awarded to the crimes 
of which they have been guilty. These were all 
friendless, moneyless men. A sad commentary this 
on that motto, ' Equal and exact justice to all/ which 
we delight to blazon over our constitution and laws. 

" Was it not time for a change time, if need be, 
for a revolution which should inaugurate a new state 
of things which should give an assurance that 
human life should be protected from the hand of the 
gentlemanly and monied assassin, as well as from the 
miserable, the poor, and the friendless \ Such a revo- 
lution has been made by the people, and it has been 
the inauguration of a new and bright era in our his- 
tory, in which an assurance has been given, that 
neither the technicalities of a badly administered law, 
nor the interference of the Executive, can save the 
murderer from the punishment he justly merits. It 
has been brought about by the very evils it is intended 


to remedy. Had crime been punished here as it 
should have been had the law done its duty, Casey 
would never have dared to shoot down the lamented 
King in broad daylight, with the hope that through 
the forms of law he would escape punishment. There 
would have been no necessity for a Vigilance Com- 
mittee, no need of a revolution. Let us hope that in 
future the law will be no longer a mockery, but be- 
come, what it was intended by its founders to be, * a 
terror to evil-doers/" 

The number of murders here given is no doubt 
appalling, but it is apt to give an idea of an infinitely 
more dreadful state of society, and of much greater 
insecurity of life to peaceable citizens than was 
actually the case. 

If these murders were classified, it would be found 
that the frequency of fatal duels had greatly swelled 
the list, while, in the majority of cases, the murders 
would turn out to be the results of rencontres between 
desperadoes and ruffians, who, by having their little 
difficulties among themselves, and shooting and 
stabbing each other, and thus diminishing their own 
numbers, were rather entitled to the thanks of the 
respectable portion of the community. 

It is very certain that in San Francisco crime was 
fostered by the laxity of the law, but it is equally 
reasonable to believe that in the mines, where Lynch 
law had full swing, the amount of crime actually com- 
mitted by the large criminally disposed portion of the 
community, consisting of lazy Mexican ladrones and 


cutthroats, well-trained professional burglars from 
populous countries, and outcast desperadoes from all 
the corners of the earth, was not so great as would 
have resulted from the presence of the same men in 
any old country, where the law, clothed in all its 
majesty, is more mysterious and slow, however irre- 
sistible, in its action. 



WITHOUT having visited some distant place in the 
mountains, such as Downieville, it was impossible to 
realise fully the extraordinary extent to which the 
country had, in so short a time, been overrun and 
settled by a population whose energy and adaptive 
genius had immediately seized and improved every 
natural advantage which presented itself, and whose 
quickly acquired wealth enabled them to introduce so 
much luxury, and to afford employment to so many 
of those branches of industry which usually flourish 
only in old communities, that in some respects Cali- 
fornia can hardly be said to have ever been a new 
country, as compared with other parts of the world 
to which that term is applied. 

The men who settled the country imparted to it a 
good deal of their own nature, which knows no period 


of boyhood. The Americans spring at once from 
childhood, or almost from infancy, to manhood ; and 
California, no less rapid in its growth, became 
a full-grown State, while one-half the world still 
doubted its existence. 

The amount of labour which had already been per- 
formed in the mines was almost incredible. Every 
river and creek from one end to the other presented 
a busy scene ; on the " bars/' of course, the miners 
were congregated in the greatest numbers ; but there 
was scarcely any part of their course where some work 
was not going on, and the flumes were so numerous, 
that for about one-third of their length the rivers 
were carried past in those wooden aqueducts. 

The most populous part of the mines, however, was 
in the high mountain- land between the rivers, and 
here the whole country had been ransacked, every 
flat and ravine had been prospected ; and wherever 
extensive diggings had been found, towns and villages 
had sprung up. 

Young as California was, it was in one respect 
older than its parent country, for life was so fast that 
already it could show ruins and deserted villages. In 
out-of-the-way places one met with cabins fallen into 
disrepair, which the proprietors had abandoned to 
locate themselves elsewhere ; and even villages of 
thirty or forty shanties were to be seen deserted and 
desolate, where the diggings had not proved so pro- 
ductive as the original founders had anticipated. 

Labour, however, was not exclusively devoted to 


mining operations. Roads had in many parts been 
cut in the sides of the mountains, bridges had been 
built, and innumerable saw-mills, most of them driven 
by steam power, were in full operation, many of them 
having been erected in anticipation of a demand for 
lumber, and before any population existed around 
them. Every little valley in the mountains where 
the soil was at all fit for cultivation, was already 
fenced in, and producing crops of barley or oats ; and 
canals, in some cases forty or fifty miles long, were 
in course of construction, to bring the waters of the 
rivers to the mountain-tops, to diggings which were 
otherwise unavailable. 

Life for the most part was hard enough certainly, 
but every village was a little city of itself, where one 
could live in comparative luxury. Even Downieville 
had its theatre and concerts, its billiard -rooms and 
saloons of all sorts, a daily paper, warm baths, and 
restaurants where men in red flannel shirts, with bare 
arms, spread a napkin over their muddy knees, and 
studied the bill of fare for half an hour before they 
could make up their minds what to order for 

I was sitting on a rock by the side of the river 
one day sketching, when I became aware that a most 
ragamuifinish individual was looking over my shoulder. 
He was certainly, without exception, the most tattered 
and torn man I ever saw in my life ; even his hair and 
beard gave the idea of rags, which was fully realised 
by his costume. He was a complete caricature of an 


old miner, and quite a picture of himself, seen from 
any point of view. 

The rim of his old brown hat seemed ready to drop 
down on his shoulders at a moment's notice, and the 
sides, having dissolved all connection with the crown, 
presented at the top a jagged circumference, festooned 
here and there with locks of light brown hair, while, 
to keep the whole fabric from falling to pieces of its 
own weight, it was bound round with a piece of 
string in lieu of a hat-band. His hair hung all over 
his shoulders in large straight flat locks, just as if a 
handkerchief had been nailed to the top of his head 
and then torn into shreds, and a long beard of the 
same pattern fringed a face as brown as a mahogany 
table. His shirt had once been red flannel of course 
it was flannel yet, what remained of it but it was in 
a most dilapidated condition. Half-way down to 
his elbows hung some shreds, which led to the belief 
that at one time he had possessed a pair of sleeves; 
but they seemed to have been removed by the action 
of time and the elements, which had also been busy 
with other parts of the garment, and had, moreover, 
changed its original scarlet to different shades of 
crimson and purple. There was enough of his shirt 
left almost to meet a pair of not trousers, but still 
less mentionable articles, of the same material as 
the shirt, and in the same stage of decomposition. He 
must have had trousers once on a time, but I suppose 
he had worn them out ; and I could not help thinking 
what extraordinary things they must have been on the 


morning when he came to the conclusion that they 
were not good enough to wear. I daresay he would 
have put them on if he could, but perhaps they were 
so full of holes that he did not know which to get 
into. His boots at least had reached this point, and 
to acknowledge that they had been boots was as much 
as a conscientious man could say for them. They 
were more holes than leather, and had no longer any 
title to the name of boots. 

He was a man between thirty and forty, and, not- 
withstanding his rags, there was nothing in his ap- 
pearance at all dirty or repulsive ; on the contrary, 
he had a very handsome, prepossessing face, with an 
air about him which at once gave the idea that he 
had been used to polite society. I was, consequently, 
not surprised at the style of his address. He talked 
with me for some time, and I found him a most 
amusing and gentlemanly fellow. He was a German 
doctor, but it was hard to detect any foreign accent 
in his pronunciation. 

The claim he was working was a mile or two up 
the river, and his company, he told me, was one of 
the greatest curiosities in the country. It consisted 
of two Americans, two Frenchmen, two Italians, two 
Mexicans, and my ragged friend, who was the only 
man in the company who spoke any language but his 
mother tongue. He was captain of the company, and 
interpreter-general for the crowd. I quite believed 
him when he said it was hard work to keep them all 
in order, and that when he was away no work could 


be done at all, and for that reason he was now hurry- 
ing back to his claim. But before leaving me he 
said, " I saw you sketching from the trail, and I came 
down to ask a favour of you." 

There is as much vanity sometimes in rags as in 
gorgeous apparel ; and what he wanted of me was to 
make a sketch of him, rags and all, just as he was. 
To study such a splendid figure was exactly what I 
wanted to do myself, so I made an appointment with 
him for the next day, and begged of him in the mean- 
time not to think of combing his hair, which, indeed, 
to judge from its appearance, he had not done for 
some time. 

I found afterwards that he was a well-known 
character, and went by the name of the Flying 

I passed by his claim one day, and such a scene it 
was ! The Tower of Babel was not a circumstance 
to it. The whole of the party were up to their waists 
in water, in the middle of the river, trying to build 
a wing-dam. The Americans, the Frenchmen, the 
Italians, and the Mexicans, were all pulling in different 
directions at an immense unwieldy log, and bestowing 
on each other most frightful oaths, though happily 
in unknown tongues ; while the directing genius, the 
Flying Dutchman, was rushing about among them, 
and gesticulating wildly in his endeavours to pacify 
them, and to explain what was to be done. He spoke 
all the modern languages at once, occasionally talking 
Spanish to a Frenchman, and English to the Italians, 


then cursing his own stupidity in German, and blow- 
ing them all up collectively in a promiscuous jumble 
of national oaths, when they all came to a stand-still, 
the Flying Dutchman even seeming to give it up in 
despair. But after addressing a few explanatory 
remarks to each nation separately, in their respective 
languages, he persuaded them to try once more, when 
they got along well enough for a few minutes, till 
something went wrong, and then the Tower-of-Babel 
scene was enacted over again. 

What induced the Flying Dutchman to form a 
company of such incongruous materials, and to 
take so much trouble in trying to work it, I can't 
say, unless it was a little of the same innocent vanity 
which was apparent in his exaggerated style of dress. 

There was a considerable number of Frenchmen 
in the neighbourhood of Downieville, but they kept 
very much to themselves. So very few of them, even 
of the better class, could speak English, and so few 
American miners knew anything of French, that 
scarcely ever were they found working together. 

In common intercourse of buying and selling, or 
asking and giving any requisite information, neither 
party were ever very much at a loss ; a few words of 
broken English, a word or two of French, and a large 
share of pantomime, carried them through any con- 

When any one capable of acting as interpreter 
happened to be present, the Frenchman, in his im- 
patience, was constantly asking him " Qu'est ce qu'il 



diU" "Qu'est ce qu'il ditT This caught the ear 
of the Americans more than anything else, and a 
"Keskydee" came at last to be a synonyme for 
a " Parleyvoo." 

The " Dutchmen" in the mines, under which de- 
nomination are included all manner of Germans, 
showed much greater aptitude to amalgamate with 
the people around them. Frenchmen were always 
found in gangs, but " Dutchmen" were usually met 
with as individuals, and more frequently associated 
with Americans than with their own countrymen. 
For the most part they spoke English very well, and 
there were none who could not make themselves per- 
fectly intelligible. 

But in making such a comparison between the Ger- 
mans and the French, it would not be fair to leave 
unmentioned the fact, that the great majority of the 
former were men who had the advantage of having 
lived for a greater or less time in the United States, 
while the Frenchmen had nearly all immigrated in 
ship-loads direct from their native country. 

About thirty miles above Downieville is one of the 
highest mountains in the mines. The view from the 
summit, which is composed of several rocky peaks in 
line with each other, like the teeth of a saw, was said 
to be one of the finest in California, and I was de- 
sirous of seeing it ; but the mountain was on the verge 
of settlement, and there was no camp or house of 
accommodation nearer to it than Downieville. How- 
ever, the Frenchman in whose house I was staying 


told me that a friend of his, who was mining there, 
would be down in a day or two, and that he would 
introduce me to him. He came down the next day 
for a supply of provisions, and I gladly took the 
opportunity of returning with him. 

The trail followed the river all the way, and was 
very rough, many parts of it being nearly as bad as 
" Cape Horn/' The Frenchman had a pack-mule 
loaded with his stock of provisions, which gave him 
an infinity of trouble. He was such a bad packer 
that the cargo was constantly shifting, and requiring 
to be repacked and secured. At one spot, where 
there was a steep descent from the trail to the river 
of about a hundred feet, the whole cargo broke loose, 
and fell to the ground. The only article, however, 
which rolled off the narrow trail was a keg of butter, 
which went bounding down the hill till it reached the 
bottom, where at one smash it buttered the whole 
surface of a large flat rock in the middle of the river. 
The Frenchman climbed down by a circuitous route 
to recover what he could of it, while I remained to 
repack the cargo. Without further accident we 
arrived about dark at my companion's cabin, where 
we found his partners just preparing supper ; and a 
very good supper it was ; for, with only the ordinary 
materials of flour, ham, and beef, it was astonishing 
what a very superior mess a Frenchman could get up. 

After smoking an infinite number of pipes, I 
stretched out on the floor, with my feet to the fire, 
and slept like a top till morning, when, having got 


directions from the Frenchman as to my route, I set 
but to climb the mountain. The cabin was situated 
at the base of one of the spurs into which the moun- 
tain branched off, and was about eight miles distant 
from the summit. 

When I had got about half-way up, I came in sight 
of a quartz-grinding establishment, situated on an 
exceedingly steep place, where a small stream of 
water came dashing over the rocks. In the face of 
the hill a step had been cut out, on which a cabin 
was built, and immediately below it were two " rast- 
ers " in full operation. 

These are the most primitive kind of contrivances 
for grinding quartz. They are circular places, ten or 
twelve feet in diameter, flagged with flat stones, and 
in these the quartz is crushed by two large heavy 
stones dragged round and round by a mule harnessed 
to a horizontal beam, to which they are also attached. 
. The quartz is already broken up into small pieces 
before being put into the raster, and a constant sup- 
ply of water is necessary to facilitate the operation, 
the stuff, while being ground, having the appearance 
pf a rich white mud. The Mexicans, who use this 
machine a great deal, have a way of ascertaining when 
the quartz is sufficiently ground, by feeling it between 
the finger and thumb of one hand, while with the 
pther they feel the lower part of their ear ; and when 
the quartz has the same soft velvety feel, it is consi- 
dered fine enough, and the gold is then extracted by 
amalgamation with quicksilver. 


A considerable amount of work had been done at 
this place. The quartz vein was several hundred 
yards above the rasters, and from it there was laid a 
double line of railway on the face of the mountain, 
for the purpose of bringing down the quartz. The 
loaded car was intended to bring up the empty one ; 
but the railway was so steep that it looked as if a 
car, once started, would never stop till it reached 
the river, two or three miles below. 

The vein was not being worked just now ; and I 
only found one man at the place, who was employed 
in keeping the two mules at work in the " rasters." 
He told me that the ascent from that point was so 
difficult that it would be dark before I could return, 
'and persuaded me to pass the night with him, and 
start early the next morning. 

The nights had been getting pretty chilly lately, 
and up here it was particularly so ; but with the aid 
of a blazing fire we managed to make ourselves com- 
fortable. I lay down before the fire, with the prospect 
of having a good sleep, but woke in the middle of the 
night, feeling it most bitterly cold. The fact is, the 
log-cabin was merely a log-cage, the chinks between 
the logs having never been filled up, and it had come 
on to blow a perfect hurricane. The spot where the 
cabin stood was very much exposed, and the gusts of 
wind blew against it and through it as if it would 
carry us all away. 

This pleasant state of things lasted two days, during 
which time I remained a prisoner in the cabin, as the 


force of the wind was so great that one could scarcely 
stand outside, and the cold was so intense that the 
pools in the stream which ran past were covered with 
ice. The cabin was but poor protection, the wind 
having full play through it, even blowing the tin 
plates off the table while we were at dinner ; and 
heavy gusts coming down the chimney filled the cabin 
with smoke, ashes, and burning wood. Two days of 
this was rather miserable work, but with the aid of 
my pencil and two or three old novels I managed to 
weather it out. 

The third day the gale was over, and though still 
cold, the weather was beautifully bright and clear. 
On setting out on my expedition to the summit of 
the mountain, I had first to climb up the railway, 
which went as far as the top of the ridge, where the 
quartz cropped out in large masses. From this there 
was a gradual ascent to the summit, about four miles 
distant, over ground which was stony, like a newly 
macadamised road, and covered with wiry brushwood 
waist-high. This was rendered a still more pleasant 
place to travel over by being infested by grizzly bears, 
whose tracks I could see on every spot of ground 
capable of receiving the impression of their feet. At 
last I arrived at the foot of the immense masses of 
rock which formed the summit of the mountain, 
and the only means of continuing the ascent was by 
climbing up long slides of loose sharp-cornered stones 
of all sizes. Every step I took forward, I went about 
half a step backward, the stones giving way under 


my feet, and causing a general commotion from top 
to bottom. On reaching the top of this place, after 
suffering a good deal in my shins and shoe-leather, I 
found myself on a ledge of rock, with a similar one 
forty or fifty feet above me, to be gained by climbing 
another slide of loose stones ; and having spent about 
an hour in working my passage up a succession of 
places of this sort, I arrived at the foot of the immense 
wall of solid rock which crowned the summit of the 
mountain. To reach the lowest point of the top of 
the perpendicular wall above me, I had some fifteen 
or twenty feet to climb the best way I could, and the 
prospect of any failure in the attempt was by no means 
encouraging, as, had I happened to fall, I should have 
been carried down to the regions below with an 
avalanche of loose rocks and stones. Even as I stood 
studying how I should make the ascent by means of 
the projecting ledges, and tracking out my course 
before I made the attempt, I felt the stones beginning 
to give way under my feet ; and seeing there was no 
time to lose, I went at it, and after a pretty hard 
struggle I reached the top. This, however, was not 
the summit I was only between the teeth of the 
saw; but I was enabled to gain the top of one of the 
peaks by means of a ledge, about a foot and a half 
wide, which slanted up the face of the rock. Here I 
sat down to enjoy the view, and certainly I felt amply 
repaid for all the labour of the ascent, by the vast- 
ness and grandeur of the panorama around me. I 
looked back for more than a hundred miles over the 


mountainous pine-clad region of the " Mines," where, 
from the shapes of some of the mountains, I could 
distinguish many of the places which I had visited. 
Beyond this lay the wide plains of the Sacramento 
Valley, in which the course of the rivers could be 
traced by the trees which grew along their banks; 
and beyond the plains the coast range was distinctly 

On the other side, from which I had made the 
ascent, there was a sheer precipice of about two hun- 
dred feet, at the foot of which, in eternal shade, lay 
heaps of snow. The mountains in this direction were 
more rugged and barren, and beyond them appeared 
the white peaks of the Sierra Nevada. The atmosphere 
was intensely clear ; it was as if there were no atmos- 
phere at all, and the view of the most remote objects 
was so vivid and distinct that any one not used to 
such a clime would have been slow to believe that 
their distance was so great as it actually was. Monte 
Diablo, a peculiarly shaped mountain within a few 
miles of San Francisco, and upwards of three hundred 
miles from where I stood, was plainly discernible, 
and with as much distinctness as on a clear day in 
England a mountain is seen at a distance of fifty or 
sixty miles. 

The beauty of the view, which consisted chiefly in 
its vastness, was greatly enhanced by being seen from 
such a lofty pinnacle. It gave one the idea of being 
suspended in the air, and cut off from all communi- 
cation with the world below. The perfect solitude of 


the place was quite oppressive, and was rendered still 
more awful by the occasional loud report of some 
piece of rock, which, becoming detached from the 
mass, went bounding down to seek a more humble 
resting-place. The gradual disruption seemed to be 
incessant, for no sooner had one fragment got out of 
hearing down below, than another started after it. 
There was a keen wind blowing, and it was so miser- 
ably cold, that when I had been up here for about an 
hour, I became quite benumbed and chilled. It was 
rather ticklish work coming down from my exalted 
position, and more perilous a good deal than it had 
been to climb up to it ; but I managed it without 
accident, and reached the cabin of my quartz-grinding 
friend before dark. 

Here I found there had arrived in the mean time 
three men from a ranch which they had taken up 
in a small valley, about thirty miles farther up in the 
mountains. There were no other white men in that 
direction, and this cabin was the nearest habitation to 
them. They had come in with six or seven mule- 
loads of hay for the use of the unfortunate animals 
who were kept in a state of constant revolution in the 
" rasters." 



I RETURNED to Downieville the next day, and as the 
weather was now getting rather cold and disagree- 
able, and I did not wish to be caught quite so far 
up in the mountains by the rainy season, I began to 
make my way down the river again to more acces- 
sible diggings. 

On leaving, I took a trail which kept along the 
bank of the river for some miles, before striking up 
to the mountain-ridge. Immediately below the town 
the mountain was very steep and smooth, and round 
this wound the trail, at the height of three or four 
hundred feet above the river. It was a mere beaten 
path so narrow that two men could not walk 
abreast, while there was hardly a bush or a tree 
to interrupt one's progress in rolling down from the 
trail to the river. 

When trains of pack-mules met at this place, they 
had the greatest difficulty in passing. The " down 


train," being of course unloaded, had to give way 
to the other. The mules understood their own 
rights perfectly well. Those loaded with cargo 
kept sturdily to the trail, while the empty mules 
scrambled up the bank, where they stood still till 
the others had passed. It not unfrequently hap- 
pened, however, that a loaded mule got crowded off 
the trail, and rolled down the hill. This was always 
the last journey the poor mule ever performed. The 
cargo was recovered more or less damaged, but the 
remnants of deceased mules on the rocks down below 
remained as a warning to all future travellers. It 
was only a few days before that a man was riding 
along here, when, from some cause, his mule stumbled 
and fell off the trail. The mule, of course, went as a 
small contribution to the collection of skeletons of 
mules which had gone before him; and his rider would 
have shared the same fate, had he not fortunately been 
arrested in his progress by a bush, the only object in 
his course which could possibly have saved him. 

The trail, after passing this spot, kept more among 
the rocks on the river -side ; and though it was 
rough travelling, the difficulties of the way were 
beguiled by the numbers of miners 5 camps through 
which one passed, and in observing the different 
varieties of mining operations being carried on. For 
miles the river was borne along in a succession of 
flumes, in which were set innumerable water-wheels, 
for working all sorts of pumps, and other contriv- 
ances for economising labour. The bed of the river 


was alive with miners ; and here and there, in the 
steep banks, were rows of twenty or thirty tunnels, 
out of which came constant streams of men, wheel- 
ing the dirt down to the river-side, to be washed in 
their long-toms. 

At Goody ear's Bar, which is a place of some size, 
the trail leaves the river, and ascends a mountain 
which is said to be the worst in that part of the 
country, and for my part I was quite willing to 
believe it was. I met several men coming down, 
who were all anxious to know if they were near the 
bottom. I was equally desirous to know if I was 
near the top, for the forest of pines was so thick,, 
that, looking up, one could only get a glimpse be- 
tween the trees of the zigzag trail far above. 

About half-way up the mountain, at a break in the 
ascent, I found a very new log-cabin by the side of a 
little stream of water. It bore a sign about as large 
as itself, on which was painted the " Florida House ; " 
and as it was getting dark, and the next house was 
five miles farther on, I thought I would take up my 
quarters here for the night. The house was kept by 
an Italian, or an " Eyetalian," as he is called across 
the Atlantic. He had a Yankee wife, with a lot of 
children, and the style of accommodation was as 
good as one usually found in such places. 

I was the only guest that night ; and as we sat by 
the fire, smoking our pipes after supper, my host, 
who was a cheerful sort of fellow, became very com- 
municative. He gave me an interesting account of 


his California experiences, and also of his farming 
operations in the States, where he had spent the 
last few years of his life. Then, going backwards in 
his career, he told me that he had lived for some 
years in England and Scotland, and spoke of many 
places there as if he knew them well. I was rather 
curious to know in what capacity such an exceed- 
ingly dingy -looking individual had visited all the 
cities of the kingdom, but he seemed to wish to avoid 
cross examination on the subject, so I did not press him. 
He became intimately connected in my mind, however, 
with sundry plaster-of-Paris busts of Napoleon, the 
Duke of Wellington, Sir Walter Scott, and other 
distinguished characters. I could fancy I saw the 
whole collection of statuary on the top of his head, 
and felt very much inclined to shout out " Images !" 
to see what effect it would have upon him. 

In the course of the evening he asked me if I 
would like to hear some music, saying that he played 
a little on the Italian fiddle. J said I would be 
delighted, particularly as I did not know the instru- 
ment. The only national fiddle I had ever heard of 
was the Caledonian, and I trusted this instrument of 
his was a different sort of thing ; but I was very much 
amused when it turned out to be nothing more or 
less than a genuine orthodox hurdy-gurdy. It put 
me more in mind of home than anything I had heard 
for a long time. At the first note, of course, the 
statuary vanished, and was replaced by a vision of 
an unfortunate monkey in a red coat, while my 


friend's extensive travels in the United Kingdom 
became very satisfactorily accounted for, and I 
thought it by no means unlikely that this was not 
the first time I had heard the sweet strains of his 
Italian fiddle. He played several of the standard old 
tunes ; but hurdy-gurdy music is of such a character 
that a little of it goes a great way ; and I was not 
sorry when a couple of strings snapped to the great 
disgust, however, of my friend, for he had no more 
with which to replace them. 

Hurdy-gurdy player or not, he was a very enter- 
taining agreeable fellow. I only hope all the frater- 
nity are like him (perhaps they are, if one only knew 
them), and attain ultimately to such a respectable 
position in life, dignifying their instruments with the 
name of Italian fiddles, and reserving them for the 
entertainment of their particular friends. 

I was on my way to Slate Eange, a place some 
distance down the river, but the next day I only 
went as far as Oak Valley, travelling the last few 
miles with a young fellow from one of the Southern 
States, whom I overtook on the way. He had been 
mining, he told me, at Downieville, and was now 
going to join some friends of his at a place some 
thirty miles off. 

At supper he did not make his appearance, which 
I did not observe, as there were a number of men at 
table, till the landlord asked me if that young fellow 
who arrived with me was not going to have any 
supper, and suggested that perhaps he was " strap- 


ped," " dead-broke " Anglice, without a cent in his 
pocket. I had not inferred anything of the sort from 
his conversation, but on going out and asking him 
why he did not come to supper, he reluctantly ad- 
mitted that the state of his finances would not admit 
of it. I told him, in the language of Mr Toots, that 
it was of no consequence, and made him come in, 
when he was most unceremoniously lectured by the 
rest of the party, and by the landlord particularly, 
on the absurdity of his intention of going supperless 
to bed merely because he happened to be " dead- 
broke," getting at the same time some useful hints 
how to act under such circumstances in future from 
several of the men present, who related how, when 
they had found themselves in such a predicament, 
they had, on frankly stating the fact, been made 
welcome to everything. 

To be " dead-broke " was really, as far as a man's 
immediate comfort was concerned, a matter of less 
importance in the mines than in almost any other 
place. There was no such thing as being out of em- 
ployment, where every man employed himself, and 
could always be sure of ample remuneration for his 
day's work. But notwithstanding the want of excuse 
for being " strapped," it was very common to find 
men in that condition. There were everywhere 
numbers of lazy idle men, who were always without a 
dollar ; and others reduced themselves to that state 
by spending their time and money on claims which, 
after all, yielded them no return, or else gradually 


exhausted their funds in travelling about the country, 
and prospecting, never satisfied with fair average 
diggings, but always having the idea that better were 
to be found elsewhere. Few miners located them- 
selves permanently in any place, and there was a 
large proportion of the population continually on the 
move. In almost every place I visited in the mines, 
I met men whom I had seen in other diggings. 
Some men I came across frequently, who seemed to 
do nothing but wander about the country, satisfied 
with asking the miners in the different diggings how 
they were "making out/' but without ever taking 
the trouble to prospect for themselves. 

Coin was very scarce, what there was being 
nearly all absorbed by the gamblers, who required it 
for convenience in carrying on their business. Ordi- 
nary payments were made in gold dust, every store 
being provided with a pair of gold scales, in which 
the miner weighed out sufficient dust from his buck- 
skin purse to pay for his purchases. 
. In general trading, gold dust was taken at sixteen 
dollars the ounce ; but in the towns and villages, at 
the agencies of the various San Francisco bankers 
and Express Companies, it was bought at a higher 
price, according to the quality of the dust, and as it 
was more or less in demand for remittance to New 

The " Express " business of the United States is 
one which has not been many years established, and 
which was originally limited to the transmission of 


small parcels of value. On the discovery of gold in 
California, the Express houses of New York imme- 
diately established agencies in San Francisco, and at 
once became largely engaged in transmitting gold 
dust to the mint in Philadelphia, and to various parts 
of the United States, on account of the owners in 
California. As a natural result of doing such a busi- 
ness, they very soon began to sell their own drafts on 
New York, and to purchase and remit gold dust on 
their own account. 

They had agencies also in every little town in the 
mines, where they enjoyed the utmost confidence of 
the community, receiving deposits from miners and 
others, and selling drafts on the Atlantic States. In 
fact, besides carrying on the original Express busi- 
ness of forwarding goods and parcels, and keeping up 
an independent post-office of their own, they became 
also, to all intents and purposes, bankers, and did as 
large an exchange business as any legitimate banking 
firm in the country. 

The want of coin was equally felt in San Francisco, 
and coins of all countries were taken into circulation 
to make up the deficiency. As yet a mint had not 
been granted to California, but there was a Govern- 
ment Assay Office, which issued a large octagonal 
gold piece of the value of fifty dollars a roughly 
executed coin, about twice the bulk of a crown-piece ; 
while the greater part of the five, ten, and twenty dollar 
pieces were not from the United States Mint, but were 
coined and issued by private firms in San Francisco. 


Silver was still more scarce, and many pieces were 
consequently current at much more than their value. 
A quarter of a dollar was the lowest appreciable sum 
represented by coin, and any piece approaching it in 
size was equally current at the same rate. A franc 
passed for a quarter of a dollar, while a five-franc 
piece only passed for a dollar, which is about its 
actual worth. As a natural consequence of francs 
being thus taken at 25 per cent more than their 
real value, large quantities of them were imported 
and put into circulation. In 1854, however, the 
bankers refused to receive them, and they gradually 

There was wonderfully little precaution taken in 
conveying the gold down from the mountains, and 
yet, although nothing deserving the name of an escort 
ever accompanied it, I never knew an instance of an 
attack upon it being attempted. On several occa- 
sions I saw the Express messenger taking down a 
quantity of gold from Downieville. He and another 
man, both well mounted, were driving a mule loaded 
with leathern sacks, containing probably two or three 
hundred pounds' weight of gold. They were well 
armed, of course ; but a couple of robbers, had they 
felt so inclined, might easily have knocked them both 
over with their rifles in the solitude of the forest, 
without much fear of detection. Bad as California 
was, it appeared a proof that it was not altogether 
such a country as was generally supposed, when 
large quantities of gold were thus regularly brought 


over the lonely mountain-trails, with even less pro- 
tection than would have been thought necessary in 
many parts of the Old World. 

From Oak Valley I went down to Slate Range 
with an American who was anxious I should visit 
his camp there. After climbing down the mountain- 
side, we at last reached the river, which here was 
confined between huge masses of slate rock, turning 
in its course, and disappearing behind bold rocky 
points so abruptly, that seldom could more of the 
length than the breadth of the river be seen at a 

An hour's scrambling over the sharp-edged slate 
rocks on the side of the river brought us to his camp, 
or at least the place where he and his partners camped 
out, which was on the bare rocks, in a corner so over- 
shadowed by the steep mountain that the sun never 
shone upon it. It was certainly the least luxurious 
habitation, and in the most wild and rugged locality, 
I had yet seen in the mines. On a rough board 
which rested on two stones were a number of tin 
plates, pannikins, and such articles of table furniture, 
while a few flat stones alongside answered the pur- 
pose of chairs. Scattered about, as was usual in all 
miners' camps, were quantities of empty tins of pre- 
served meats, sardines, and oysters, empty bottles of 
all shapes and sizes, innumerable ham-bones, old 
clothes, and other rubbish. Round the blackened 
spot which was evidently the kitchen were pots and 
frying-pans, sacks of flour and beans, and other 


provisions, together with a variety of cans and bottles, 
of which no one could tell the contents without 
inspection ; for in the mines everything is perverted 
from its original purpose, butter being perhaps 
stowed away in a tin labelled " fresh lobsters/' tea in 
a powder canister, and salt in a sardine-box. 

There was nothing in the shape of a tent or 
shanty of any sort ; it was not required as a shelter 
from the heat of the sun, as the place was in the per- 
petual shade of the mountain, and at night each man 
rolled himself up in his blankets, and made a bed 
of the smoothest and softest piece of rock he could 

This part of the river was very rich, the gold being 
found in the soft slate rock between the layers and 
in the crevices. 

My friend and his partners were working in a 
" wing dam " in front of their camp, and the river, 
being pushed back off one half of its bed, rushed 
past in a roaring torrent, white with foam. A large 
water-wheel was set in it, which worked several pumps, 
and a couple of feet above it lay a pine-tree, which 
had been felled there so as to serve as a bridge. The 
river was above thirty feet wide, and the tree, not 
more than a foot and a half in diameter, was in its 
original condition, perfectly round and smooth, and was, 
moreover, kept constantly wet with the spray from 
the wheel, which was so close that one could almost 
touch it in passing. If one had happened to slip and 
fall into the water, he would have had about as much 


chance of coining out alive as if he had fallen before 
the paddles of a steamer ; and any gentleman with 
shaky legs and unsteady nerves, had he been com- 
pelled to pass such a bridge, would most probably 
have got astride of it, and so worked his passage 
across. In the mines, however, these "pine-log 
crossings " were such a very common style of bridge, 
that every one was used to them, and walked them 
like a rope-dancer : in fact, there was a degree of 
pleasant excitement in passing a very slippery and 
difficult one such as this. 



WHILE at this camp, I went down the river two or 
three miles to see a place called Mississippi Bar, where 
a company of Chinamen were at work. After an 
hour's climbing along the rocky banks, and having 
crossed and recrossed the river some half-dozen times 
on pine logs, I at last got down among the Celestials. 

There were about a hundred and fifty of them 
here, living in a perfect village of small tents, all 
clustered together on the rocks. They had a claim 
in the bed of the river, which they were working by 
means of a wing dam. A " wing dam," I may here 
mention, is one which first runs half-way across the 
river, then down the river, and back again to the 
same side, thus damming off a portion of its bed 
without the necessity of the more expensive operation 
of lifting up the whole river bodily in a " flume." 

The Chinamen's dam was two or three hundred 


yards in length, and was built of large pine-trees 
laid one on the top of the other. They must have 
had great difficulty in handling such immense logs 
in such a place ; but they are exceedingly ingenious 
in applying mechanical power, particularly in con- 
centrating the force of a large number of men upon 
one point. 

There were Chinamen of the better class among 
them, who no doubt directed the work, and paid the 
common men very poor wages poor at least for Cali- 
fornia. A Chinaman could be hired for two, or at 
most three dollars a-day by any one who thought 
their labour worth so much ; but those at work here 
were most likely paid at a still lower rate, for it was 
well known that whole shiploads of Chinamen came 
to the country under a species of bondage to some 
of their wealthy countrymen in San Francisco, who, 
immediately on their arrival, shipped them off to the 
mines under charge of an agent, keeping them com- 
pletely under control by some mysterious celestial 
influence, quite independent of the laws of the country. 

They sent up to the mines for their use supplies of 
Chinese provisions and clothing, and thus all the 
gold taken out by them remained in Chinese hands, 
and benefited the rest of the community but little 
by passing through the ordinary channels of trade. 

In fact, the Chinese formed a distinct class, which 
enriched itself at the expense of the country, ab- 
stracting a large portion of its latent wealth without 
contributing, in a degree commensurate with their 


numbers, to the prosperity of the community of 
which they formed a part. 

The individuals of any community must exist by 
supplying the wants of others ; and when a man 
neither does this, nor has any wants of his own but 
those which he provides for himself, he is of no use to 
his neighbours ; but when, in addition to this, he also 
diminishes the productiveness of the country, he is a 
positive disadvantage in proportion to the amount 
of public wealth which he engrosses, and becomes a 
public nuisance. 

What is true of an individual is true also of a class ; 
and the Chinese, though they were no doubt, as far 
as China was concerned, both productive and con- 
sumptive, were considered by a very large party in 
California to be merely destructive as far as that 
country was interested. 

They were, of course, not altogether so, for such a 
numerous body as they were could not possibly be so 
isolated as to be entirely independent of others ; but 
any advantage which the country derived from their 
presence was too dearly paid for by the quantity of 
gold which they took from it ; and the propriety of 
expelling all the Chinese from the State was long 
discussed, both by the press and in the Legislature ; 
but the principles of the American constitution pre- 
vailed ; the country was open to all the world, and 
the Chinese enjoyed equal rights with the most 
favoured nation. In some parts of the mines, how- 
ever, the miners had their own ideas on the subject, 


and would not allow the Chinamen to come among 
them ; but generally they were not interfered with, 
for they contented themselves with working such 
poor diggings as it was not thought worth while to 
take from them. 

This claim on the Yuba was the greatest under- 
taking I ever saw attempted by them. 

They expended a vast deal of unnecessary labour 
in their method of working, and their individual 
labour, in effect, was as nothing compared with that 
of other miners. A company of fifteen or twenty 
white men would have wing-dammed this claim, and 
worked it out in two or three months, while here 
were about a hundred and fifty Chinamen humbug- 
ging round it all the season, and still had not worked 
one half the ground. 

Their mechanical contrivances were not in the 
usual rough straightforward style of the mines ; 
they were curious, and very elaborately got up, but 
extremely wasteful of labour, and, moreover, very 

The pumps which they had at work here were an 
instance of this. They were on the principle of a 
chain-pump, the chain being formed of pieces of wood 
about six inches long, hingeing on each other, with 
cross-pieces in the middle for buckets, having about 
six square inches of surface. The hinges fitted ex- 
actly to the spokes of a small wheel, which was 
turned by a Chinaman at each side of it working a 
miniature treadmill of four spokes on the same axle. 


As specimens of joiner- work they were very pretty, 
but as pumps they were ridiculous ; they threw a 
mere driblet of water : the chain was not even en- 
cased in a box it merely lay in a slanting trough, 
so that more than one half the capacity of the buckets 
was lost. An American miner, at the expenditure 
of one-tenth part of the labour of making such toys, 
would have set a water-wheel in the river to work 
an elevating pump, which would have thrown more 
water in half an hour than four-and-twenty China- 
men could throw in a day with a dozen of these gim- 
crack contrivances. Their camp was wonderfully 
clean : when I passed through it, I found a great 
many of them at their toilet, getting their heads 
shaved, or plaiting each other's pigtails ; but most of 
them were at dinner, squatted on the rocks in groups 
of eight or ten round a number of curious little black 
pots and dishes, from which they helped themselves 
with their chopsticks. In the centre was a large 
bowl of rice. This is their staple article, and they 
devour it most voraciously. Throwing back their 
heads, they hold a large cupful to their wide-open 
mouths, and, with a quick motion of the chopsticks 
in the other hand, they cause the rice to flow down 
their throats in a continuous stream. 

I received several invitations to dinner, but de- 
clined the pleasure, preferring to be a spectator. The 
rice looked well enough, and the rest of their dishes 
were no doubt very clean, but they had a very 
dubious appearance, and were far from suggesting 


the idea of being good to eat. In the store I found 
the storekeeper lying asleep on a mat. He was a 
sleek dirty -looking object, like a fat pig with the 
hair scalded off, his head being all close shaved 
excepting the pigtail. His opium-pipe lay in his 
hand, and the lamp still burned beside him, so I 
supposed he was already in the seventh heavens. 
The store was like other stores in the mines, inas- 
much as it contained a higgledy-piggledy collection 
of provisions and clothing, but everything was 
Chinese excepting the boots. These are the only 
articles of barbarian costume which the Chinaman 
adopts, and he always wears them of an enormous 
size, on a scale commensurate with the ample capacity 
of his other garments. 

The next place I visited was Wamba's Bar, some 
miles lower down the river ; and from here I intended 
returning to Nevada, as the season was far advanced, 
and fine weather could no longer be depended upon. 

The very day, however, on which I was to start, 
the rain commenced, and came down in such torrents 
that I postponed my departure. It continued to 
rain heavily for several days, and I had no choice but 
to remain where I was, as the river rose rapidly to 
such a height as to be perfectly impassable. It was 
now about eighty yards wide, and rushed past in a 
raging torrent, the waves rolling several feet high. 
Some of the miners up above, trusting to a longer 
continuance of the dry season, had not removed 
their flumes from the river, and these it was now 


carrying down, all broken up into fragments, along 
with logs and whole pine-trees, which occasionally, 
as they got foul of other objects, reared straight up 
out of the water. It was a grand sight ; the river 
seemed as if it had suddenly arisen to assert its 
independence, and take vengeance for all the re- 
straints which had been placed upon it, by demo- 
lishing flumes, dams, and bridges, and carrying off 
everything within its reach. 

The house I was staying in was the only one in 
the neighbourhood, and was a sort of half store, half 
boarding-house. Several miners lived in it, and there 
were, besides, two or three storm-stayed travellers 
like myself. It was a small clapboard house, built 
on a rock immediately over the river, but still so far 
above it that we anticipated no danger from the 
flood. We were close to the mouth of a creek, how- 
ever, which we one night fully expected would send 
the house on a voyage of discovery down the river. 
Some drift -logs up above had got jammed, and so 
altered the course of the stream as to bring it sweep- 
ing past the corner of the house, which merely rested 
on a number of posts. The waters rose to within 
an inch or two of the floor ; and as they carried logs 
and rocks along with them, we feared that the posts 
would be carried away, when the whole fabric would 
immediately slip off the rocks into the angry river a 
few feet below. There was a small window at one 
end through which we might have escaped, and this 
was taken out that no time might be lost when the 


moment for clearing out should arrive, while axes 
also were kept in readiness, to smash through the 
back of the house, which rested on terra firma. It 
was an exceedingly dark night, very cold, and rain- 
ing cats and dogs, so that the prospect of having to 
jump out of the window and sit on the rocks till 
morning was by no means pleasant to contemplate ; 
but the idea of being washed into the river was still 
less agreeable, and no one ventured to sleep, as the 
water was already almost up to the floor, and a very 
slight rise would have smashed up the whole concern 
so quickly, that it was best to be on the alert. The 
house fortunately stood it out bravely till daylight, 
when some of the party put an end to the danger by 
going up the creek, and removing the accumulation 
of logs which had turned the water from its proper 

After the rain ceased, we had to wait for two 
days till the river fell sufficiently to allow of its 
being crossed with any degree of safety ; but on the 
third day, along with another man who was going to 
Nevada, I made the passage in a small skiff not 
without considerable difficulty, however, for the river 
was still much swollen, and covered with logs and 
drift-wood. On landing on the other side, we struck 
straight up the face of the mountain, and soon gained 
the high land, where we found a few inches of snow fast 
disappearing before the still powerful rays of the sun. 

We arrived at Nevada after a day and a half of 
very muddy travelling, but the weather was bright 


and clear, and seemed to be a renewal of the dry sea- 
son. It did not last long, however, for a heavy- snow- 
storm soon set in, and it continued snowing, raining, 
and freezing for about three weeks, the snow lying 
on the ground all the time, to the depth of three or 
four feet. The continuance of such weather rendered 
the roads so impracticable as to cut off all supplies 
from Marysville or Sacramento, and accordingly 
prices of provisions of all kinds rose enormously. 
The miners could not work with so much snow on the 
ground, and altogether there was a prospect of hard 
times. Flour was exceedingly high even in San 
Francisco, several capitalists having entered into a 
flour -monopoly speculation, buying up every cargo 
as it arrived, and so keeping up the price. In Nevada 
it was sold at a dollar a-pound, and in other places 
farther up in the mountains it was doled out, as 
long as the stock lasted, at three or four times that 
price. In many parts the people were reduced to 
the utmost distress from the scarcity of food, and the 
impossibility of obtaining any fresh supplies. At 
Downieville, the few men who had remained there 
were living on barley, a small stock of which was 
fortunately kept there as mule-feed. Several men 
perished in the snow in trying to make their escape 
from distant camps in the mountains ; two or three 
lost their lives near the ranch of my friend the Italian 
hurdy-gurdy player, while carrying flour down to 
their camps on the river ; and in some places people 


saved themselves from starvation by eating dogs and 

Men kept pouring into Nevada from all quarters, 
starved out of their own camps, and all bearing the 
same tale of starvation and distress, and glad to get 
to a place where food was to be had. The town, being 
a sort of harbour of refuge for miners in remote 
diggings, became very full; and as no work could be 
done in such weather, the population had nothing to 
do but to amuse themselves the best way they could. 
A theatrical company were performing nightly to 
crowded houses ; the gambling saloons were kept in 
full blast ; and in fact, every day was like a Sunday, 
from the number of men one saw idling about, play- 
ing cards, and gambling. 

Although the severity of the weather interrupted 
mining operations for the time, it was nevertheless a 
subject of rejoicing to the miners generally, for many 
localities could only be worked when plenty of water 
was running in the ravines, and it was not unusual 
for men to employ themselves in the dry season in 
" throwing up " heaps of dirt, in anticipation of hav- 
ing plenty of water in winter to wash it. This was 
commonly done in flats and ravines where water 
could only be had immediately after heavy rains. 
It was easy to distinguish a heap of thrown-up dirt 
from a pile of " tailings/' or dirt already washed, and 
property of this sort was quite sacred, the gold 
being not less safe there perhaps safer than if 


already in the pocket of the owner. In whatever 
place a man threw up a pile of dirt, he might leave it 
without any concern for its safety, and remove to 
another part of the country, being sure to find it 
intact when he returned to wash it, no matter how 
long he might be absent. 



I HAD occasion to return to San Francisco at this 
time, and the journey was about the most unpleasant 
I ever performed. The roads had been getting worse 
all the time, and were quite impassable for stages or 
waggons. The mail was brought up by express 
messengers, but other communication there was none. 
The nearest route to San Francisco that by Sacra- 
mento was perfectly impracticable, and the only 
way to get down there was by Marysville, situated 
about fifty miles off, at the junction of the Yuba 
and Feather rivers. 

I set out one afternoon with a friend who was also 
going down, and who knew the way, which was 
rather an advantage, as the trails were hidden under 
three or four feet of snow. We occasionally, how- 
ever, got the benefit of a narrow path, trodden down 


by other travellers ; and though we only made twelve 
miles that day, we in that distance gradually emerged 
from the snow, and got down into the regions of 
mud and slush and rain. We stayed the night at 
a road-side house, where we found twenty or thirty 
miners starved out of their own camps, and in the 
morning we resumed our journey in a steady pour of 
rain. The mud was more than ankle-deep, but was 
so well diluted with water that it did not cause 
much inconvenience in walking, while at the foot of 
every little hollow was a stream to be waded waist- 
high ; for we were now out of the mining regions, 
and crossing the rolling country between the moun- 
tains and the plains, where the water did not run off 
so quickly. 

When we reached the only large stream on our 
route, we found that the bridge, which had been the 
usual means of crossing, had been carried away, and 
the banks on either side were overflowed to a con- 
siderable distance. A pine-tree had been felled 
across when the waters were lower, but they now 
flowed two or three feet over the top of it the only 
sign that it was there being the branches sticking up, 
and marking its course across the river. 

It was not very pleasant to have to cross such a 
swollen stream on such a very visionary bridge, but 
there was no help for it; so, cutting sticks wherewith 
to feel for a footing under water, we waded out till 
we reached the original bank of the stream, where 
we had to take to the pine log, and travel it as best 


we could with the assistance of the branches, the 
water rushing past nearly up to our waists. We had 
fifty or sixty feet to go in this way, but the farther 
end of the log rose nearly to the surface of the 
water, and landed us on an island, from which we 
had to pass to dry land through a thicket of bushes 
under four feet of water. 

Towards evening we arrived at a ranch, about 
twenty miles from Marysville, which we made the 
end of our day's journey. We were saturated with 
rain and mud, but dry clothes were not to be had ; 
so we were obliged to pass another night under 
hydropathic treatment, the natural consequence of 
which was, that in the morning we were stiff and 
sore all over. However, after walking a short dis- 
tance, we got rid of this sensation receiving a fresh 
ducking from the rain, which continued to fall as 
heavily as ever. 

The plains, which we had now reached, were 
almost entirely under water, and at every depression 
in the surface of the ground a slough had to be 
waded of corresponding depth sometimes over the 
waist. The road was only in some places discernible, 
and we kept to it chiefly by steering for the houses, 
to be seen at intervals of a few miles. 

About six miles from Marysville we crossed the 
Yuba, which was here a large rapid river a hundred 
yards wide. We were ferried over in a little skiff, 
and had to pull up the river nearly half a mile, so as 
to fetch the landing on the other side. I was not 


sorry to reach terra firma again, such as it was, for 
the boat was a flat-bottomed, straight-sided little 
thing, about the size and shape of a coffin, and was 
quite unsuitable for such work. The waves were 
running so high that it was with the utmost diffi- 
culty we escaped being swamped, and all the swim- 
ming that could have been done in such a current 
would not have done any one much good. 

From this point to Marysville the country was still 
more flooded. We passed several teams, which, in a 
vain endeavour to get up to the mountains with sup- 
plies, were hopelessly stuck in the mud at the bot- 
tom of the hollows, with only the rim of the wheels 
appearing above water. 

Marysville is a city of some importance : being 
situated at the head of navigation, it is the depot 
and starting - point for the extensive district of 
mining country lying north and east of it. It is 
well laid out in wide streets, containing numbers 
of large brick and wooden buildings, and the 
ground it stands upon is ten or twelve feet above 
the usual level of the river. But when we waded 
up to it, we found the portion of the town nearest 
the river completely flooded, the water being nearly 
up to the first floor of the houses, while the people 
were going about in boats. In the streets farther 
back, however, it was not so bad ; one could get 
along without having to go much over the ankles. 
The appearance of the place, as seen through the 
heavy rain, was far from cheering. The first idea 


which occurred to me on beholding it was that of ; 
rheumatism, and the second fever and ague ; but L 
was glad to find myself here, nevertheless, if only to 
experience once more the sensation of having on dry 

I learned that several men had been drowned on 
different parts of the plains in attempting to cross 
some of the immense pools or sloughs such as we 
had passed on our way ; while cattle and horses 
were drowned in numbers, and were dying of starva- 
tion on insulated spots, from which there was no 

I saw plenty of this, however, the next day in 
going down by the steamboat to Sacramento. The 
distance is fifty or sixty miles through the plains all 
the way, but they had now more the appearance of a 
vast inland sea. 

It would have been difficult to keep to the chan- 
nel of the river, had it not been for the trees 
appearing on each side, and the numbers of squat- 
ters' shanties generally built on a spot where the 
bank was high and showed itself above water, 
though in many cases nothing but the roof of the 
cabin could be seen. 

On the tops of the cabins and sheds, on piles of 
firewood, or up in the trees, were fowls calmly 
waiting their doom ; while pigs, cows, and horses 
were all huddled up together, knee -deep in water, 
on any little rising-ground which offered standing- 
room, dying by inches from inanition. The squat-? 


ters themselves were busy removing in boats what- 
ever property they could, and at those cabins whose 
occupants were not yet completely drowned out, a 
boat was made fast alongside as a means of escape 
for the poor devils, who, as the steamer went past, 
looked out of the door the very pictures of woe and 
dismay. We saw two men sitting resolutely on the 
top of their cabin, the water almost up to their feet ; 
a boat was made fast to the chimney, to be used 
when the worst came to the worst, but they were 
apparently determined to see it out if possible. 
They looked intensely miserable, though they would 
not own it, for they gave us a very feigned and 
uncheery hurrah as we steamed past. 

The loss sustained by these settlers was very 
great. The inconvenience of being for a time 
floated off the face of the earth in a small boat was 
bad enough of itself; but to have the greater part of 
their worldly possessions floating around them, in the 
shape of the corpses of what had been their live 
stock, must have rather tended to damp their spirits. 
However, Calif ornians are proof against all such 
reverses, they are like India-rubber, the more se- 
verely they are cast down, the higher they rise after- 

It was hardly possible to conceive what an amount 
of rain and snow must have fallen to lay such a vast 
extent of country under water ; and though the 
weather was now improving, the rain being not so 
constant, or so heavy, it would still be some time 


before the waters could subside, as the snow which 
had fallen in the mountains had yet to find its way 
down, and would serve to keep up the flood. 

Sacramento City was in as wretched a plight as a 
city can well be in. 

The only dry land to be seen was the top of the 
levee built along the bank of the river in front of the 
town ; all the rest was water, out of which rose the 
houses, or at least the upper parts of them. The 
streets were all so many canals crowded with boats 
and barges carrying on the customary traffic ; water- 
men plied for hire in the streets instead of cabs, and 
independent gentlemen poled themselves about on 
rafts, or on extemporised boats made of empty 
boxes. In one part of the town, where the water 
was not deep enough for general navigation, a very 
curious style of conveyance was in use. Pairs of 
horses were harnessed to large flat-bottomed boats, 
and numbers of these vehicles, carrying passengers 
or goods, were to be seen cruising about, now dash- 
ing through a foot or two of mud which the horses 
made to fly in all directions as they floundered 
through it, now grounding and bumping over some 
very dry spot, and again sailing gracefully along the 
top of the water, so deep as nearly to cover the 
horses' backs. 

The water in the river was some feet higher than 
that in the town, and it was fortunate that the levee 
did not give way, or the loss of life would have been 
very great. As it was, some few men had been 


drowned in the streets. The destruction of property, 
and the pecuniary loss to the inhabitants, were of 
course enormous, but they had been flooded once or 
twice before, besides having several times had their 
city burned down, and were consequently quite used 
to such disasters ; in fact, Sacramento suffered more 
from fire and flood together than any city in the 
State, without, however, apparently retarding the 
growing prosperity of the people. 

I arrived in Sacramento too late for the steamer 
for San Francisco, and so had the pleasure of passing 
a night there, but I cannot say I experienced any 
personal inconvenience from the watery condition of 
the town. 

It seemed to cause very little interruption to the 
usual order of things in hotels, theatres, and other 
public places ; there was a good deal of anxiety as to 
the security of the levee, in which was the only safety 
of the city ; but in the mean time the ordinary course 
of pleasure and business was unchanged, except in 
the substitution of boats for wheeled vehicles ; and 
the great source of consolation and congratulation 
to the sufferers from the flood, and to the population 
generally, was in endeavouring to compute how many 
millions of rats would be drowned. 

On arriving in San Francisco the change was very 
great it was like entering a totally different coun- 
try. In place of cold and rain and snow, flooded 
towns, and no dry land, or snowed-up towns in the 


mountains with no food, here was a clear bright sky, 
and a warm sun shining down upon a city where 
everything looked bright and gay. It was nearly a 
year since I had left San Francisco, and in the mean 
time the greater part of it had been burned down 
and rebuilt. The appearance of most of the prin- 
cipal streets was completely altered ; large brick 
stores had taken the place of wooden buildings ; and 
so rapidly had the city extended itself into the bay, 
that the principal business was now conducted on 
wide streets of solid brick and stone warehouses, 
where a year before had been fifteen or twenty feet of 
water. All, excepting the more unfrequented streets, 
were planked, and had good stone or plank side-walks, 
so that there was but little mud notwithstanding the 
heavy rains which had fallen. In the upper part of 
the town, however, where the streets were still in 
their original condition, the amount of mud was quite 
inconceivable. Some places were almost impassable, 
and carts might be seen almost submerged, which 
half-a-dozen horses were vainly trying to extricate. 

The climate of San Francisco has the peculiarity of 
being milder in winter than in summer. Winter is by 
far the most pleasant season of the year It is cer- 
tainly the rainy season, but it only rains occasionally, 
and when it does it is not cold. The ordinary winter 
weather is soft, mild, subdued sunshine, not unlike 
the Indian summer of North America. The San 
Francisco summer, however, is the most disagreeable 


and trying season one can be subjected to. In the 
morning and forenoon it is generally beautifully 
bright and warm : one feels inclined to dress as one 
would in the tropics ; but this cannot be done with 
safety, for one has to be prepared for the sudden 
change in temperature which occurs nearly every day 
towards the afternoon, when there blows in off the 
sea a cold biting wind, chilling the very marrow in 
one's bones. The cold is doubly felt after the heat of 
the fore part of the day, and to some constitutions 
such extreme variations of temperature within the 
twenty-four hours are no doubt very injurious, espe- 
cially as the wind not unfrequently brings a damp 
fog along with it. 

The climate is nevertheless generally considered 
salubrious, and is thought by some people to be one 
of the finest in the world. For my own part, I much 
prefer the summer weather of the mines, where the 
sky is always bright, and the warm temperature of 
the day becomes only comparatively cool at night, 
while the atmosphere is so dry, that the heat, however 
intense, is never oppressive, and so clear that every- 
thing within the range of vision is as clearly and dis- 
tinctly seen as if one were looking upon a flat sur- 
face, and could equally examine each separate part of 
it, so satisfactory and so minute in detail is the view 
of the most distant objects. 

Considering the very frequent use of pistols in San 
Francisco, it is a most providential circumstance that 


the climate is in a high degree favourable for the 
cure of gunshot wounds. These in general heal very 
rapidly, and many miraculous recoveries have taken 
place, effected by nature and the climate, after the 
surgeons, experienced as they are in that branch of 
practice, had exhausted their skill upon the patient. 



THE long tract of mountainous country lying north 
and south, which comprises the mining districts, is 
divided into the northern and southern mines the 
former having communication with San Francisco 
through Sacramento and Marysville, while the latter 
are more accessible by way of Stockton, a city situ- 
ated at the head of navigation of the San Joaquin, 
which joins the Sacramento about fifty miles above 
San Francisco. 

My wanderings had hitherto been confined to the 
northern mines, and when, after a short stay in San 
Francisco, business again led me to Placerville, I 
determined from that point to travel down through 
the southern mines, and visit the various places of 
interest en route. 

It was about the end of March when I started. 
The winter was quite over ; all that remained of it 


was an occasional heavy shower of rain ; the air was 
mild and soft, and the mountains, covered with fresh 
verdure, were blooming brightly in the warm sun- 
shine with many-coloured flowers. In every ravine, 
and through each little hollow in the high lands, 
flowed a stream of water ; and wherever water was 
to be found, there also were miners at work. From 
the towns and camps, where the supply of water was 
constant, and where the diggings could consequently 
be worked at any time of the year, they had ex- 
panded themselves over the whole face of the 
country ; and in travelling through the depths of the 
forests, just as the solitude seemed to be perfect, one 
got a glimpse in the distance, through the dark col- 
umns of the pine-trees, of the red shirts of two or 
three straggling miners, taking advantage of the short 
period of running water to reap a golden harvest in 
some spot of fancied richness. This was the season 
of all others to see to the best advantage the grandeur 
and beauty of the scenery, and at the same time to 
realise how widely diffused and inexhaustible is the 
wealth of the country. Inexhaustible is, of course, 
only a comparative term ; for the amount of gold 
still remaining in California is a definite quantity be- 
coming less and less every day, and already vastly 
reduced from what it was when the mines lay intact 
seven years ago ; but still the date at which the yield 
of the California mines is to cease, or even to begin 
to fall off, seems to be as far distant as ever. In fact, 
the continued labour of constantly increasing num- 


bers of miners, instead of exhausting the resources of 
the mines, as some persons at first supposed would 
be the case, has, on the contrary, only served to esta- 
blish confidence in the permanence of their wealth. 

It is true that such diggings are now rarely to be 
met with as were found in the early days, when the 
pioneers, pitching, as if by instinct, on those spots 
where the superabundant richness of the country had 
broken out, dug up gold as they would potatoes ; nor 
is the average yield to the individual miner so great 
as it was in those times. Subsequent research, how- 
ever, has shown that the gold is not confined to a 
few localities, but that the whole country is saturated 
with it. The mineral produce of the mines increases 
with the population, though not in the same ratio ; 
for only a certain proportion of the immigrants be- 
take themselves to mining, the rest finding equally 
profitable occupation in the various branches of 
mechanical and agricultural industry which have of 
late years sprung up ; while the miner, though per- 
haps not actually taking out as much gold as in 
1849, is nevertheless equally prosperous, for he lives 
amid the comforts of civilised life, which he obtains 
at a reasonable rate, instead of being reduced to a 
half-savage state, and having to pay fabulous prices 
for every article of consumption. 

The first large camp on my way south from Hang- 
town was Moquelumne Hill, about sixty miles dis- 
tant, and as there were no very interesting localities 
in the intermediate country, I travelled direct to that 


place. After passing through a number of small 
camps, I arrived about noon of the second day at 
Jacksonville, a small village called after General 
Jackson, of immortal memory. I had noticed a great 
many French miners at work as I came along, and so 
I was prepared to find it rather a French-looking 
place. Half the signs over the stores and hotels were 
French, and numbers of Frenchmen were sitting at 
small tables in front of the houses playing at cards. 

As I walked up the town I nearly stumbled over a 
young grizzly bear, about the size of two Newfound- 
land dogs rolled into one, which was chained to a 
stump in the middle of the street. I very quickly 
got out of his way ; but I found afterwards that 
he was more playful than vicious. He was the pet 
of the village, and was delighted when he could get 
any one to play with, though he was rather beyond 
the age at which such a playmate is at all desirable. 
I don't think he was likely to enjoy long even the 
small amount of freedom he possessed ; he would 
probably be caged up and shipped to New York ; 
for a live grizzly is there a valuable piece of pro- 
perty, worth a good deal more than the same weight 
of bear's meat in California, even at two dollars 

From this place there was a steep descent of two 
or three miles to the Moquelumne Eiver, which I 
crossed by means of a good bridge, and, after ascend- 
ing again to the upper world by a long winding 
road, I reached the town of Moquelumne Hill, which 


is situated on the very brink of the high land over- 
hanging the river. 

It lies in a sort of semicircular amphitheatre of 
about a mile in diameter, surrounded by a chain of 
small eminences, in which gold was found in great 
quantities. The diggings were chiefly deep diggings, 
worked by means of " coyote holes/' a hundred feet 
deep, and all the ground round the town was accord- 
ingly covered with windlasses and heaps of dirt. 
The heights at each end of the amphitheatre had 
proved the richest spots, and were supposed to have 
been volcanoes. But many hills in the mines got 
the credit of having been volcanoes, for no other 
reason than that they were full of gold ; and this was 
probably the only claim to such a distinction which 
could be made in this case. 

The population was a mixture of equal proportions 
of French, Mexicans, and Americans, with a few stray 
Chinamen, Chilians, and suchlike. 

The town itself, with the exception of two or three 
wooden stores and gambling saloons, was all of can- 
vass. Many of the houses were merely skeletons 
clothed in dirty rags of canvass, and it was not diffi- 
cult to tell what part of the population they belonged 
to, even had there not been crowds of lazy Mexicans 
vegetating about the doors. 

The Indians, who were pretty numerous about 
here, seemed to be a slightly superior race to those 
farther north. I judged so from the fact that they 
apparently had more money, and consequently must 


have had more energy to dig for it. They were also 
great gamblers, and particularly fond of monte, at 
which the Mexicans fleeced them of all their cash, 
excepting what they spent in making themselves 
ridiculous with stray articles of clothing. 

But perhaps their appreciation of monte, and their 
desire to copy the costume of white men, are signs of 
a greater capability of civilisation than they gene- 
rally get credit for. Still their presence is not com- 
patible with that of a civilised community, and, as 
the country becomes more thickly settled, there will 
be no longer room for them. Their country can be 
made subservient to man, but as they themselves 
cannot be turned to account, they must move off, and 
make way for their betters. 

This may not be very good morality, but it is the 
way of the world, and the aborigines of California are 
not likely to share a better fate than those of many 
another country. And though the people who drive 
them out may make the process as gradual as pos- 
sible by the system of Indian grants and reservations, 
yet, as with wild cattle, so it is with Indians, so many 
head, and no more, can live on a given quantity of 
land, and, if crowded into too small a compass, the 
result is certain though gradual extirpation, for by 
their numbers they prevent the reproduction of their 
means of subsistence. 

At the time of my arrival in Moquelumne Hill, the 
town was posted all over with placards, which I had 
also observed stuck upon trees and rocks by the 


road-side as I travelled over the mountains. They 
were to this effect : 

" WAR ! WAR ! I WAR ! ! 1 

The celebrated Bull -killing Bear, 

will fight a Bull on Sunday the 15th inst., at 2 P. M., 

at Moquelumne Hill. 

" The Bear will be chained with a twenty-foot chain in the 
middle of the arena. The Bull will be perfectly wild, young, 
of the Spanish breed, and the best that can be found in the 
country. The Bull's horns will be of their natural length, and 
4 not sawed off to prevent accidents.' The Bull will be quite free 
in the arena, and not hampered in any way whatever." 

The proprietors then went on to state that they 
had nothing to do with the humbugging which 
characterised the last fight, and begged confidently 
to assure the public that this would be the most 
splendid exhibition ever seen in the country. 

I had often heard of these bull-and-bear fights as 
popular amusements in some parts of the State, but 
had never yet had an opportunity of witnessing them ; 
so, on Sunday the 15th, I found myself walking up 
towards the arena, among a crowd of miners and 
others of all nations, to witness the performances of 
the redoubted General Scott. 

The amphitheatre was a roughly but strongly built 
wooden structure, uncovered of course ; and the outer 
enclosure, which was of boards about ten feet high, 
was a hundred feet in diameter. The arena in the 
centre was forty feet in diameter, and enclosed by a 
very strong five-barred fence. From the top of this 


rose tiers of seats, occupying the space between the 
arena and the outside enclosure. 

As the appointed hour drew near, the company 
continued to arrive till the whole place was crowded ; 
while, to beguile the time till the business of the day 
should commence, two fiddlers a white man and a 
gentleman of colour performed a variety of appro- 
priate airs. 

The scene was gay and brilliant, and was one 
which would have made a crowded opera-house 
appear gloomy and dull in comparison. The shelving 
bank of human beings which encircled the place was 
like a mass of bright flowers. The most conspicuous 
objects were the shirts of the miners, red, white, and 
blue being the fashionable colours, among which 
appeared bronzed and bearded faces under hats of 
every hue ; revolvers and silver-handled bowie-knives 
glanced in the bright sunshine, and among the crowd 
were numbers of gay Mexican blankets, and red and 
blue French bonnets, while here and there the fair 
sex was represented by a few Mexican women in 
snowy-white dresses, puffing their cigaritas in delight- 
ful anticipation of the exciting scene which was to 
be enacted. Over the heads of the highest circle of 
spectators was seen mountain beyond mountain fading 
away in the distance, and on the green turf of the 
arena lay the great centre of attraction, the hero of 
the day, General Scott. 

He was, however, not yet exposed to public gaze, 
but was confined in his cage, a heavy wooden box 

292 THE BEAR. 

lined with iron, with open iron-bars on one side, 
which for the present was boarded over. From the 
centre of the arena a chain led into the cage, and at 
the end of it no doubt the bear was to be found. 
Beneath the scaffolding on which sat the spectators 
were two pens, each containing a very handsome 
bull, showing evident signs of indignation at his 
confinement. Here also was the bar, without which 
no place of public amusement would be complete. 

There was much excitement among the crowd as 
to the result of the battle, as the bear had already 
killed several bulls ; but an idea prevailed that in 
former fights the bulls had not had fair play, being 
tied by a rope to the bear, and having the tips of 
their horns sawed off. But on this occasion the bull 
was to have every advantage which could be given 
him ; and he certainly had the good wishes of the 
spectators, though the bear was considered such a 
successful and experienced bull-fighter that the bet- 
ting was all in his favour. Some of my neighbours 
gave it as their opinion, that there was " nary bull 
in Calaforny as could whip that bar." 

At last, after a final tattoo had been beaten on a 
gong to make the stragglers hurry up the hill, pre- 
parations were made for beginning the fight. 

The bear made his appearance before the public 
in a very bearish manner. His cage ran upon very 
small wheels, and some bolts having been slipped 
connected with the face of it, it was dragged out of 
the ring, when, as his chain only allowed him to come 

THE BULL. 293 

within a foot or two of the fence, the General was 
rolled out upon the ground all of a heap, and very 
much against his inclination apparently, for he made 
violent efforts to regain his cage as it disappeared. 
When he saw that was hopeless, he floundered half- 
way round the ring at the length of his chain, and 
commenced to tear up the earth with his fore-paws. 
He was a grizzly bear of pretty large size, weighing 
about twelve hundred pounds. 

The next thing to be done was to introduce the 
bull. The bars between his pen and the arena were 
removed, while two or three men stood ready to put 
them up again as soon as he should come out. But 
he did not seem to like the prospect, and was not 
disposed to move till pretty sharply poked up from 
behind, when, making a furious dash at the red flag 
which was being waved in front of the gate, he found 
himself in the ring face to face with General Scott. 

The General, in the mean time, had scraped a hole 
for himself two or three inches deep, in which he was 
lying down. This, I was told by those who had seen 
his performances before, was his usual fighting attitude. 

The bull was a very beautiful animal, of a dark 
purple colour marked with white. His horns were 
regular and sharp, and his coat was as smooth and 
glossy as a racer's. He stood for a moment taking 
a survey of the bear, the ring, and the crowds of 
people ; but not liking the appearance of things in 
general, he wheeled round, and made a splendid dash 
at the bars, which had already been put up between 


him and his pen, smashing through them with as 
much ease as the man in the circus leaps through a 
hoop of brown paper. This was only losing time, 
however, for he had to go in and fight, and might 
as well have done so at once. He was accordingly 
again persuaded to enter the arena, and a perfect 
barricade of bars and boards was erected to prevent 
his making another retreat. But this time he had 
made up his mind to fight ; and after looking 
steadily at the bear for a few minutes as if taking 
aim at him, he put down his head and charged furi- 
ously at him across the arena. The bear received 
him crouching down as low as he could, and though 
one could hear the bump of the bull's head and horns 
upon his ribs, he was quick enough to seize the bull 
by the nose before he could retreat. This spirited 
commencement of the battle on the part of the bull 
was hailed with uproarious applause ; and by having 
shown such pluck, he had gained more than ever the 
sympathy of the people. 

In the mean time, the bear, lying on his back, held 
the bull's nose firmly between his teeth, and em- 
braced him round the neck with his fore-paws, while 
the bull made the most of his opportunities in 
stamping on the bear with his hind-feet. At last the 
General became exasperated at such treatment, and 
shook the bull savagely by the nose, when a promis- 
cuous scuffle ensued, which resulted in the bear 
throwing his antagonist to the ground with his fore- 


For this feat the bear was cheered immensely, and 
it was thought that, having the bull down, he would 
make short work of him ; but apparently wild beasts 
do not tear each other to pieces quite so easily as is 
generally supposed, for neither the bear's teeth nor 
his long claws seemed to have much effect on the 
hide of the bull, who soon regained his feet, and, dis- 
engaging himself, retired to the other side of the ring, 
while the bear again crouched down in his hole. 

Neither of them seemed to be very much the worse 
of the encounter, excepting that the bull's nose had 
rather a ragged and bloody appearance ; but after 
standing a few minutes, steadily eyeing the General, 
he made another rush at him. Again poor bruin's 
ribs resounded, but again he took the bull's nose into 
chancery, having seized him just as before. The 
bull, however, quickly disengaged himself, and was 
making off, when the General, not wishing to part 
with him so soon, seized his hind-foot between his 
teeth, and, holding on by his paws as well, was 
thus dragged round the ring before he quitted his 

This round terminated with shouts of delight from 
the excited spectators, and it was thought that the 
bull might have a chance after all. He had been 
severely punished, however ; his nose and lips were a 
mass of bloody shreds, and he lay down to recover 
himself. But he was not allowed to rest very long, 
being poked up with sticks by men outside, which 
made him very savage. He made several feints to 


charge them through the bars, which, fortunately, he 
did not attempt, for he could certainly have gone 
through them as easily as he had before broken into 
his pen. He showed no inclination to renew the com- 
bat ; but by goading him, and waving a red flag over 
the bear, he was eventually worked up to such a state 
of fury as to make another charge. The result was 
exactly the same as before, only that when the bull 
managed to get up after being thrown, the bear still 
had hold of the skin of his back. 

In the next round both parties fought more 
savagely than ever, and the advantage was rather in 
favour of the bear : the bull seemed to be quite used 
up, and to have lost all chance of victory. 

The conductor of the performances then mounted 
the barrier, and, addressing the crowd, asked them if 
the bull had not had fair play, which was unani- 
mously allowed. He then stated that he knew there 
was not a bull in California which the General could 
not whip, and that for two hundred dollars he would 
let in the other bull, and the three should fight it out 
till one or all were killed. 

This proposal was received with loud cheers, and 
two or three men going round with hats soon 
collected, in voluntary contributions, the required 
amount. The people were intensely excited and de- 
lighted with the sport, and double the sum would 
have been just as quickly raised to insure a continu- 
ance of the scene. A man sitting next me, who was 
a connoisseur in bear-fights, and passionately fond of 


the amusement, informed me that this was " the finest 
fight ever fit in the country." 

The second bull was equally handsome as the first, 
and in as good condition. On entering the arena, and 
looking around him, he seemed to understand the state 
of affairs at once. Glancing from the bear lying on 
the ground to the other bull standing at the opposite 
side of the ring, with drooping head and bloody nose, 
he seemed to divine at once that the bear was their 
common enemy, and rushed at him full tilt. The 
bear, as usual, pinned him by the nose ; but this bull 
did not take such treatment so quietly as the other : 
struggling violently, he soon freed himself, and, wheel- 
ing round as he did so, he caught the bear on the 
hind-quarters and knocked him over ; while the other 
bull, who had been quietly watching the proceedings, 
thought this a good opportunity to pitch in also, and 
rushing up, he gave the bear a dig in the ribs on the 
other side before he had time to recover himself. 
The poor General between the two did not know what 
to do, but struck out blindly with his fore-paws with 
such a suppliant pitiable look that I thought this the 
most disgusting part of the whole exhibition. 

After another round or two with the fresh bull, it 
was evident that he was no match for the bear, and 
it was agreed to conclude the performances. The 
bulls were then shot to put them out of pain, and 
the company dispersed, all apparently satisfied that 
it had been a very splendid fight. 

The reader can form his own opinion as to the 


character of an exhibition such as I have endeavoured 
to describe. For my own part, I did not at first find 
the actual spectacle so disgusting as I had expected I 
should ; for as long as the animals fought with spirit, 
they might have been supposed to be following their 
natural instincts ; but when the bull had to be urged 
and goaded on to return to the charge, the cruelty of 
the whole proceeding was too apparent ; and when 
the two bulls at once were let in upon the bear, all 
idea of sport or fair play was at an end, and it became 
a scene which one would rather have prevented than 

In these bull-and-bear fights the bull sometimes 
kills the bear at the first charge, by plunging his horns 
between the ribs, and striking a vital part. Such was 
the fate of General Scott in the next battle he fought, 
a few weeks afterwards ; but it is seldom that the 
bear kills the bull outright, his misery being in most 
cases ended by a rifle-ball when he can no longer 
maintain the combat. 

I took a sketch of the General the day after the 
battle. He was in the middle of the now deserted 
arena, and was in a particularly savage humour. 
He seemed to consider my intrusion on his solitude 
as a personal insult, for he growled most savagely, 
and stormed about in his cage, even pulling at the 
iron bars in his efforts to get out. I could not help 
thinking what a pretty mess he would have made of 
me if he had succeeded in doing so ; but I regarded 
with peculiar satisfaction the massive architecture of 


his abode ; and, taking a seat a few feet from him, I 
lighted my pipe, and waited till he should quiet down 
into an attitude, which he soon did, though very 
sulkily, when he saw that he could not help himself. 

He did not seem to be much the worse of the 
battle, having but one wound, and that appeared to 
be only skin deep. 

Such a bear as this, alive, was worth about fifteen 
hundred dollars. The method of capturing them is 
a service of considerable danger, and requires a great 
deal of labour and constant watching. 

A spot is chosen in some remote part of the moun- 
tains, where it has been ascertained that bears are 
pretty numerous. Here a species of cage is built, 
about twelve feet square and six feet high, con- 
structed of pine logs, and fastened after the manner 
of a log-cabin. This is suspended between two trees, 
six or seven feet from the ground, and inside is hung 
a huge piece of beef, communicating by a string with 
a trigger, so contrived that the slightest tug at the 
beef draws the trigger, and down comes the trap, 
which has more the appearance of a log-cabin sus- 
pended in the air than anything else. A regular 
locomotive cage, lined with iron, has also to be taken 
to the spot, to be kept in readiness for bruin's accom- 
modation, for the pine-log trap would not hold him 
long ; he would soon eat and tear his way out of it. 
The enterprising bear -catchers have therefore to 
remain in the neighbourhood, and keep a sharp look- 


Kemoving the bear from the trap to the cage is the 
most dangerous part of the business. One side of 
the trap is so contrived as to admit of being opened 
or removed, and the cage is drawn up alongside, with 
the door also open, when the bear has to be per- 
suaded to step into his new abode, in which he travels 
down to the more populous parts of the country, to 
fight bulls for the amusement of the public. 



THE want of water was the great obstacle in the 
way of mining at Moquelumne Hill. As it stood so 
much higher than the surrounding country, there 
were no streams which could be introduced, and the 
only means of getting a constant supply was to 
bring the water from the Moquelumne Kiver, which 
flowed past, three or four thousand feet below the 
diggings. In order to get the requisite elevation to 
raise the waters so far above their natural channel, it 
was found necessary to commence the canal some 
fifty or sixty miles up the river. The idea had been 
projected, but the execution of such a piece of work 
required more capital than could be raised at the 
moment ; but the diggings at Moquelumne Hill 
were known to be so rich, as was also the tract 


of country through which the canal would pass, that 
the speculation was considered sure to be successful ; 
and a company was not long after formed for the 
purpose of carrying out the undertaking, which 
amply repaid those embarked in it, and opened up 
a vast extent of new field for mining operations, by 
supplying water in places which otherwise could 
only have been worked for two or three months of 
the year. 

This was only one of many such undertakings in 
California, some of which were even on a larger scale. 
The engineering difficulties were very great, from 
the rocky and mountainous nature of the country 
through which the canals were brought. Hollows 
and valleys were spanned at a great height by aque- 
ducts, supported on graceful scaffoldings of pine- 
logs, and precipitous mountains were girded by 
wooden flumes projecting from their rocky sides. 
Throughout the course of a canal, wherever water 
was wanted by miners, it was supplied to them at 
so much an inch, a sufficient quantity for a party 
of five or six men costing about seven dollars a- 

I remained a few days at Moquelumne Hill in 
a holey old canvass hotel, which freely admitted 
both wind and water ; but in this respect it was not 
much worse than its neighbours. A French physi- 
cian resided on the opposite side of the street in a 
tent not much larger than a sentry-box, on the front 
of which appeared the following promiscuous an- 


nouncement, in letters as large as tlie space admitted 






From Moquelumne I went to Volcano Diggings, a 
distance of eighteen miles, but which I lengthened to 
nearly thirty by losing my way in crossing an un- 
frequented part of the country wher,e the trails were 
very indistinct. 

The principal diggings at Volcano are in the 
banks of a gulch, called Soldiers' Gulch, from its 
having been first worked by United States' soldiers, 
and were of a peculiar nature, differing from any 
other diggings I had seen, inasmuch as, though they 
had been worked to a depth of forty or fifty feet 
from the surface, they had been equally rich from 
top to bottom, and as yet no bed - rock had been 
reached. It was seldom such a depth of pay-dirt was 
found. The gold was usually only found within a 
few feet of the bottom, but in this case the stiff clay 
soil may have retained the gold, and prevented its 
settling down so readily as through sand or gravel. 
The clay was so stiff that it was with difficulty it 
could be washed, and lately the miners had taken 


to boiling it in large boilers, which was found to 
dissolve it very quickly. 

To mineralogists I should think that this is the 
most interesting spot in the mines, from the great 
variety of curious stones found in large quantities 
in the diggings. One kind is found, about the size 
of a man's head, which when broken appears veined 
with successive brightly-coloured layers round a beau- 
tifully-crystallised cavity in the centre, the whole 
being enveloped in a rough outside crust an inch in 
thickness. The colours are more various and the 
veins closer together than those of a Scotch pebble, 
and the stone itself is more flinty and opaque. 
Quantities of lava were also found here, and masses 
of limestone rock appeared above the surface of the 

This place lay north of Moquelumne Hill, and 
might be called the most southern point of the 
northern mines. 

Between the scenery of the northern mines and 
that of the south there is a very marked difference, 
both in the exterior formation of the country, 
and in the kind of trees with which it is wooded. 
In both the surface of the country is smooth - 
that is to say, there is an absence of ruggedness of 
detail the mountains appear to have been smoothed 
down by the action of water ; but, both north and 
south, the country, as a whole, is rough in the ex- 
treme, the mountain-sides, as well as the table-lands, 
being covered with swellings, and deeply indented by 


ravines. An acre of level land is hardly to be found. 
The difference, however, exists in this, that in the 
north the mountains themselves, and every little 
swelling upon them, are of a conical form, while in 
the south they are all more circular. The mountains 
spread themselves out in hemispherical projections 
one beyond another ; and in many parts of the 
country are found groups of eminences of the same 
form, and as symmetrical as if they had been shaped 
by artificial means. 

There is just as much symmetry in the conical 
forms of the northern mines, but they appear more 
natural, and the pyramidal tops of the pine-trees are 
quite in keeping with the outlines of the country 
which they cover ; and it is remarkable that where 
the conical formation ceases, there also the pine 
ceases to be the principal tree of the country. There 
are pines, and plenty of them, in the southern mines, 
but the country is chiefly wooded with various kinds 
of oaks, and other trees of still more rounded shape, 
with only here and there a solitary pine towering 
above them to break the monotony of the curvilinear 

As might be expected from this circular formation, 
the rivers in the south do not follow such a sharp zig- 
zag course as in the north; they take wider sweeps : the 
mountains are not so steep, and the country generally 
is not so rough. In fact, there is scarcely any camp 
in the southern mines which is not accessible by 

wheeled vehicles. 



Besides this great change in the appearance of the 
country, one could not fail to observe also, in travel- 
ling south, the equally marked difference in the in- 
habitants. In the north, one saw occasionally some 
straggling Frenchmen and other European foreigners, 
here and there a party of Chinamen, and a few Mexi- 
cans engaged in driving mules, but the total num- 
ber of foreigners was very small : the population was 
almost entirely composed of Americans, and of these 
the Missourians and other western men formed a large 

The southern mines, however, were full of all sorts 
of people. There were many villages peopled nearly 
altogether by Mexicans, others by Frenchmen ; in 
some places there were parties of two or three 
hundred Chilians forming a community of their 
own. The Chinese camps were very numerous ; and 
besides all such distinct colonies of foreigners, every 
town of the southern mines contained a very large 
foreign population. The Americans, however, were 
of course greatly the majority, but even among them 
one remarked the comparatively small number of 
Missourians and such men, who are so conspicuous 
in the north. 

There was still another difference in a very impor- 
tant feature in fact, the most important of all the 
gold. The gold of the northern mines is generally 
flaky, in exceedingly small thin scales ; that of the 
south is coarse gold, round and " chunky." The 
rivers of the north afford very rich diggings, while 


in the south they are comparatively poor, and the 
richest deposits are found in the flats and other 
surface-diggings on the highlands. 

In the north there were no such canvass towns as 
Moquelumne Hill. Log -cabins and frame-houses 
were the rule, and canvass the exception ; while in the 
southern mines the reverse was the case, excepting 
in some of the larger towns. 

It is singular that the State should be thus divided 
by nature into two sections of country so unlike in 
many important points ; and that the people inha- 
biting them should help to heighten the contrast is 
equally curious, though it may possibly be accounted 
for by supposing that Frenchmen, Mexicans, and 
other foreigners, preferred the less wild-looking coun- 
try and more temperate winters of the southern 
mines, while the absence of the Western backwoods- 
men in the south was owing to the fact that they 
came to the country across the plains by a route 
which entered the State near Placerville. Their natu- 
ral instinct would have led them to continue on a 
westward course, but this would have brought them 
down on the plains of the Sacramento Valley, where 
there is no gold ; so, thinking that sunset was more 
north than south, and knowing a] so there was more 
western land in that direction, they spread all over 
the northern part of the State, till they connected 
themselves with the settlements in Oregon. 

In the neighbourhood of Volcano there is a curious 
cave, which I went to visit with two or three miners. 


The entrance to it is among some large rocks on the 
bank of the creek, and is a hole in the ground just 
large enough to admit of a man's dropping himself into 
it lengthways. The descent is perpendicular between 
masses of rock for about twenty feet, and is accom- 
plished by means of a rope ; the passage then takes a 
slanting direction for the same distance, and lands 
one in a chamber thirty or forty feet wide, the roof 
and sides of which are composed of groups of im- 
mense stalactites. The height varies very much, some 
of the stalactites reaching within four or five feet of 
the ground ; and there are several small openings in 
the walls, just large enough to creep through, which 
lead into similar chambers. We brought a number 
of pieces of candle with us, with which we lighted up 
the whole place. The effect was very fine ; the stalac- 
tites, being tinged with pale blue, pink, and green, 
were grouped in all manner of grotesque forms, in 
one corner giving an exact representation of a small 
petrified waterfall. 

Coming down into the cave was easy enough, the 
force of gravity being the only motive power, but to 
get out again we found rather a difficult operation. 
The sides of the passage were smooth, offering no 
resting-place for the foot ; and the only means of pro- 
gression was to haul oneself up by the rope hand over 
hand rather hard work in the inclined part of the 
passage, which was so confined that one could hardly 
use one's arms. 

At the hotel I stayed at here I found very agree- 
able company ; most of the party were Texans, and 


were doctors and lawyers by profession, though 
miners by practice. For the first time since I had 
been in the mines I here saw whist played, the more 
favourite games being poker, eucre, and all-fours, or 
" seven up," as it is there called. There were also some 
enthusiastic chess-players among the party, who had 
manufactured a set of men with their bowie-knives ; 
so what with whist and chess every night, I fancied I 
had got into a civilised country. 

The day before I had intended leaving this village, 
some Mexicans came into the camp with a lot of 
mules, which they sold so cheap as to excite suspicions 
that they had not come by them honestly. In the 
evening it was discovered that they were stolen 
animals, and several men started in pursuit of the 
Mexicans ; but they had already been gone some 
hours, and there was little chance of their being 
overtaken. I waited a day, in hopes of seeing them 
brought back and hung by process of Lynch law, 
which would certainly have been their fate had they 
been caught ; but, fortunately for them, they suc- 
ceeded in making good their escape. The men 
who had gone in chase returned empty-handed, so 
I set out again for Moquelumne Hill on my way 

I was put upon a shorter trail than the one by 
which I had come from there; and though it was 
very dim and little travelled, I managed to keep it : 
and passing on my way through a small camp called 
Clinton, inhabited principally by Chilians and French- 
men, I struck the Moquelumne River at a point seve- 


ral miles above the bridge where I had crossed it 

The river was still much swollen with the rains 
and snow of winter, and the mode of crossing was 
not by any means inviting. Two very small canoes 
lashed together served as a ferry-boat, in which the 
passenger hauled himself across the river by means 
of a rope made fast to a tree on either bank, the 
force of the current keeping the canoes bow on. 
When I arrived here, this contrivance happened to 
be on the opposite side, where I saw a solitary tent 
which seemed to be inhabited, but I hallooed in vain 
for some one to make his appearance and act as ferry- 
man. There seemed to be a trail from the tent lead- 
ing up the river; so, following that direction for 
about half a mile, I found a party of miners at work 
on the other side one of whom, in the obliging spirit 
universally met with in the mines, immediately left 
his work and came down to ferry me across. 

On the side I was on was an old race about eighteen 
feet wide, through which the waters rushed rapidly 
past. A pile of rocks prevented the boat from cross- 
ing this, so there was nothing for it but to wade. 
Some stones had been thrown in, forming a sort of 
submarine stepping-stones, and lessening the depth 
to about three feet ; but they were smooth and slip- 
pery, and the water was so intensely cold, and the 
current so strong, that I found the long pole which 
the man told me to take a very necessary assistance 
in making the passage. On reaching the canoes, and 
being duly enjoined to be careful in getting in and 


to keep perfectly still, we crossed the main body of 
the river; and very ticklish work it was, for the waves 
ran high, and the utmost care was required to avoid 
being swamped. We got across safe enough, when 
my friend put me under additional obligations by 
producing a bottle of brandy from his tent and ask- 
ing me to " liquor," which I did with a great deal of 
pleasure, as the water was still gurgling and squeak- 
ing in my boots, and was so cold that I felt as if I 
were half immersed in ice-cream. 

After climbing the steep mountain-side and walking 
a few miles farther, I arrived at Moquelumne Hill, 
having, in the course of my day's journey, gradually 
passed from the pine-tree country into such scenery 
as I have already described as characterising the 
southern mines. 

I went on the next morning to San Andres by a 
road which winded through beautiful little valleys, 
still fresh and green, and covered with large patches 
of flowers. In one long gulch through which I 
passed, about two hundred Chilians were at work 
washing the dirt, panful by panful, in their large 
flat wooden dishes. This is a very tedious process, 
and a most unprofitable expenditure of labour; but 
Mexicans, Chilians, and other Spanish Americans, most 
obstinately adhered to their old-fashioned primitive 
style, although they had the example before them of 
all the rest of the world continually making improve- 
ments in the method of abstracting the gold, whereby 
time was saved and labour rendered tenfold more 


I soon after met a troop of forty or fifty Indians 
galloping along the road, most of them riding double 
the gentlemen having their squaws seated behind 
them. They were dressed in the most grotesque 
style, and the clothing seemed to be pretty generally 
diffused throughout the crowd. One man wore a 
coat, another had the remains of a shirt and one boot, 
while another was fully equipped in an old hat and a 
waistcoat: but the most conspicuous and generally 
worn articles of costume were the coloured cotton 
handkerchiefs with which they bandaged up their 
heads. As they passed they looked down upon me 
with an air of patronising condescension, saluting me 
with the usual " wally wally," in just such a tone 
that I could imagine them saying to themselves at 
the same time, " Poor devil! he's only a white man/' 

They all had their bows and arrows, and some 
were armed besides with old guns and rifles, but they 
were doubtless only going to pay a friendly visit to 
some neighbouring tribe. They were evidently an- 
ticipating a pleasant time, for I never before saw 
Indians exhibiting such boisterous good-humour. 

A few miles in from San Andres I crossed the 
Calaveras, which is here a wide river, though not 
very deep. There was neither bridge nor ferry, but 
fortunately some Mexicans had camped with a train 
of pack-mules not far from the place, and from them 
I got an animal to take me across. 



IF one can imagine the booths and penny theatres on 
a race-course left for a year or two till they are tat- 
tered and torn, and blackened with the weather, he 
will have some idea of the appearance of San Andres. 
It was certainly the most out-at-elbows and disor- 
derly-looking camp I had yet seen in the country. 

The only wooden house was the San Andres Hotel, 
and here I took up my quarters. It was kept by a 
Missourian doctor, and being the only establish- 
ment of the kind in the place, was quite full. We 
sat down forty or fifty at the table-d'hote. 

The Mexicans formed by far the most numerous 
part of the population. The streets for there were 
two streets at right angles to each other and the 
gambling-rooms were crowded with them, loafing 
about in their blankets doing nothing. There were 
three gambling-rooms in the village, all within a few 
steps of each other, and in each of them was a Mexi- 


can band playing guitars, harps, and flutes. Of 
course, one heard them all three at once, and as each 
played a different tune, the effect, as may be supposed, 
was very pleasing. 

The sleeping apartments in the hotel itself were all 
full, and I had to take a cot in a tent on the other 
side of the street, which was a sort of colony of the 
parent establishment. It was situated between two 
gambling-houses, one of which was kept by a French- 
man, who, whenever his musicians stopped to take 
breath or brandy, began a series of doleful airs on an 
old barrel-organ. Till how late in the morning they 
kept it up I cannot say, but whenever I happened to 
awake in the middle of the night, my ears were still 
greeted by these sweet sounds. 

There was one canvass structure, differing but little 
in appearance from the rest, excepting that a small 
wooden cross surmounted the roof over the door. 
This was a Roman Catholic church. The only fitting 
up of any kind in the interior was the altar, which 
occupied the farther end from the door, and was de- 
corated with as much display as circumstances ad- 
mitted, being draped with the commonest kind of 
coloured cotton cloths, and covered with candlesticks, 
some brass, some of wood, but most of them regular 
California candlesticks old claret and champagne 
bottles, arranged with due regard to the numbers and 
grouping of those bearing the different ornamental 
labels of St Julien, Medoc, and other favourite brands. 

I went in on Sunday morning while service was 

A CHURCH. 315 

going on, and found a number of Mexican women 
occupying the space nearest the altar, the rest of the 
church being filled with Mexicans, who all maintained 
an appearance of respectful devotion. Two or three 
Americans, who were present out of curiosity, natu- 
rally kept in the background near the door, except- 
ing two great hulking fellows who came swaggering 
in, and jostled their way through the crowd of Mexi- 
cans, making it evident, from their demeanour, that 
their only object was to show their supreme contempt 
for the congregation, and for the whole proceedings. 
Presently, however, the entire congregation went 
down on their knees, leaving these two awkward louts 
standing in the middle of the church as sheepish-look- 
ing a pair of asses as one could wish to see. They 
were hemmed in by the crowd of kneeling Mexicans 
there was no retreat for them, and it was extremely 
gratifying to see how quickly their bullying impu- 
dence was taken out of them, and that it brought 
upon them a punishment which they evidently felt 
so acutely. The officiating priest, who was a French- 
man, afterwards gave a short sermon in Spanish, 
which was listened to attentively, and the people 
then dispersed to spend the remainder of the day in 
the gambling-rooms. 

The same afternoon a drove of wild California 
cattle passed through the camp, and as several head 
were being drafted out, I had an opportunity of 
witnessing a specimen of the extraordinary skill 
of the Mexican in throwing the lasso. Galloping 


in among the herd, and swinging the reatu round 
his head, he singles out the animal he wishes to 
secure, and, seldom missing his aim, he throws his 
lasso so as to encircle its horns. As soon as he sees 
that he has accomplished this, he immediately wheels 
round his horse, who equally well understands his 
part of the business, and stands prepared to receive 
the shock when the bull shall have reached the length 
of the rope. In his endeavours to escape, the bull 
then gallops round in a circle, of which the centre is 
the horse, moving slowly round, and leaning over with 
one of his fore-feet planted well out, so as to enable 
him to hold his own in the struggle. An animal, if 
he is not very wild, may be taken along in this way, 
but generally another man rides up behind him, and 
throws his lasso so as to catch him by the hind-leg. 
This requires great dexterity and precision, as the 
lasso has to be thrown in such a way that the bull 
shall put his foot into the noose before it reaches the 
ground. Having an animal secured by the horns and 
a hind-foot, they have him completely under com- 
mand ; one man drags him along by the horns, while 
the other steers him by the hind-leg. If he gets 
at all obstreperous, however, they throw him, and 
drag him along the ground. 

The lasso is about twenty yards long, made of 
strips of raw hide plaited, and the end is made fast 
to the high horn which sticks up in front of the 
Mexican saddle ; the strain is all upon the saddle, 
and the girth, which is consequently immensely 
strong, and lashed up very tight. The Mexican 


saddles are well adapted for this sort of work, and 
the Mexicans are unquestionably splendid horsemen, 
though they ride too long for English ideas, the 
knee being hardly bent at all. 

Two of the Vigilance Committee rode over from 
Moquelumne Hill next morning, to get the Padre to 
return with them to confess a Mexican whom they 
were going to hang that afternoon, for having cut 
into a tent and stolen several hundred dollars. I 
unfortunately did not know anything about it till it 
was so late that had I gone there I should not have 
been in time to see the execution : not that I cared 
for the mere spectacle of a poor wretch hanging by 
the neck, but I was extremely desirous of witnessing 
the ceremonies of an execution by Judge Lynch ; and 
though I was two or three years cruising about in the 
mines, I never had the luck to be present on such an 
occasion. I particularly regretted having missed this 
one, as, from the accounts I afterwards heard of it, it 
must have been well worth seeing. 

The Mexican was at first suspected of the robbery, 
from his own folly in going the very next morning 
to several stores, and spending an unusual amount of 
money on clothes, revolvers, and so on. When once 
suspected, he was seized without ceremony, and on 
his person was found a quantity of gold specimens 
and coin, along with the purse itself, all of which 
were identified by the man who had been robbed. 
With such evidence, of course, he was very soon con- 
victed, and was sentenced to be hung. On being 


told of the decision of the jury, and that he was to 
be hung the next day, he received the information as 
a piece of news which no way concerned him, merely 
shrugging his shoulders and saying, " 'sta bueno," 
in the tone of utter indifference in which the Mexi- 
cans generally use the expression, requesting at the 
same time that the priest might be sent for. 

When he was led out to be hanged, he walked 
along with as much nonchalance as any of the crowd, 
and when told at the place of execution that he 
might say whatever he had to say, he gracefully 
took off his hat, and blowing a farewell whiff of 
smoke through his nostrils, he threw away the 
cigarita he had been smoking, and, addressing the 
crowd, he asked forgiveness for the numerous acts 
of villany to which he had already confessed, and 
politely took leave of the world with " Adios, cabal- 
leros." He was then run up to a butcher's derrick 
by the Vigilance Committee, all the members having 
hold of the rope, and thus sharing the responsibility 
of the act. 

A very few days after I left San Andres, a man 
was lynched for a robbery committed very much in 
the same manner. But if stringent measures were 
wanted in one part of the country more than another, 
it was in such flimsy canvass towns as these two 
places, where there was such a population of worthless 
Mexican canaille, who were too lazy to work for 
an honest livelihood. 

I went on in a few days to Angel's Camp, a village 


some miles farther south, composed of well - built 
wooden houses, and altogether a more respectable 
and civilised-looking place than San Andres. The 
inhabitants were nearly all Americans, which no 
doubt accounted for the circumstance. 

While walking round the diggings in the afternoon, 
I came upon a Chinese camp in a gulch near the 
village. About a hundred Chinamen had here 
pitched their tents on a rocky eminence by the side 
of their diggings. When I passed they were at 
dinner or supper, and had all the curious little pots 
and pans and other "fixins" which I had seen in every 
Chinese camp, and were eating the same dubious- 
looking articles which excite in the mind of an out- 
side barbarian a certain degree of curiosity to know 
what they are composed of, but not the slightest 
desire to gratify it by the sense of taste. I was very 
hospitably asked to partake of the good things, which 
I declined ; but as I would not eat, they insisted on 
my drinking, and poured me out a pannikin full of 
brandy, which they seemed rather surprised I did not 
empty. They also gave me some of their cigaritas, 
the tobacco of which is aromatic, and very pleasant 
to smoke, though wrapped up in too much paper. 

The Chinese invariably treated in the same hos- 
pitable manner any one who visited their camps, 
and seemed rather pleased than otherwise at the 
interest and curiosity excited by their domestic 

In the evening, a ball took place at the hotel I 

320 A BALL. 

was staying at, where, though none of the fair sex 
were present, dancing was kept up with great spirit 
for several hours. For music the company were 
indebted to two amateurs, one of whom played the 
fiddle and the other the flute. It is customary in 
the mines for the fiddler to take the responsibility 
of keeping the dancers all right. He goes through 
the dance orally, and at the proper intervals his 
voice is heard above the music and the conversation, 
shouting loudly his directions to the dancers, " Lady's 
chain," " Set to your partner," with other dancing- 
school words of command ; and after all the legiti- 
mate figures of the dance had been performed, out 
of consideration for the thirsty appetites of the 
dancers, and for the good of the house, he always 
announced, in a louder voice than usual, the supple- 
mentary finale of " Promenade to the bar, and treat 
your partners." This injunction, as may be sup- 
posed, was most rigorously obeyed, and the " ladies," 
after their fatigues, tossed off their cocktails and 
lighted their pipes just as in more polished circles 
they eat ice-creams and sip lemonade. 

It was a strange sight to see a party of long- 
bearded men, in heavy boots and flannel shirts, going 
through all the steps and figures of the dance with 
so much spirit, and often with a great deal of 
grace, hearty enjoyment depicted on their dried-up 
sunburned faces, and revolvers and bowie-knives 
glancing in their belts ; while a crowd of the same 
rough-looking customers stood around, cheering them 


on to greater efforts, and occasionally dancing a step 
or two quietly on their own account. Dancing 
parties such as these were very common, especially 
in small camps where there was no such general 
resort as the gambling-saloons of the larger towns. 
Wherever a fiddler could be found to play, a dance 
was got up. Waltzes and polkas were not so 
much in fashion as the "Lancers" which appeared 
to be very generally known, and, besides, gave 
plenty of exercise to the light fantastic toes of the 
dancers ; for here men danced, as they did every- 
thing else, with all their might; and to go through 
the " Lancers " in such company was a very severe 
gymnastic exercise. The absence of ladies was a 
difficulty which was very easily overcome, by a simple 
arrangement whereby it was understood that every 
gentleman who had a patch on a certain part of his 
inexpressibles should be considered a lady for the 
time being. These patches were rather fashionable, 
and were usually large squares of canvass, showing 
brightly on a dark ground, so that the " ladies " of 
the party were as conspicuous as if they had been 
surrounded by the usual quantity of white muslin, 

A pas seul sometimes varied the entertainment. I 
was present on one occasion at a dance at Foster's 
Bar, when, after several sets of the "Lancers" had 
been danced, a young Scotch boy, who was probably 
a runaway apprentice from a Scotch ship for the 
sailor -boy air was easily seen through the thick coat- 
ing of flour which he had acquired in his present 


occupation in the employment of a French baker- 
was requested to dance the Highland Fling for the 
amusement of the company. The music was good, 
and he certainly did justice to it ; dancing most 
vigorously for about a quarter of an hour, shouting 
and yelling as he was cheered by the crowd, and 
going into it with all the fury of a wild savage in a 
war-dance. The spectators were uproarious in their 
applause. I daresay many of them never saw such an 
exhibition before. The youngster was looked upon 
as a perfect prodigy, and if he had drank with all 
the men who then sought the honour of " treating " 
him, he would never have lived to tread another 




FKOM Angel's Camp I went on a few miles to Car- 
son's Creek, on which there was a small camp, lying 
at the foot of a hill, which was named after the same 
man. On its summit a quartz vein cropped out in 
large masses to the height of thirty or forty feet, 
looking at a distance like the remains of a solid wall 
of fortification. It had only been worked a few feet 
from the surface, but already an incredible amount 
of gold had been taken out of it. 

Every place in the mines had its traditions of 
wonderful events which had occurred in the olden 
times; that is to say, as far back as " '49 " for three 
years in such a fast country were equal to a century ; 
and at this place the tradition was, that, when the 
quartz vein was first worked, the method adopted 
was to put in a blast, and, after the explosion, to go 


round with handbaskets and pick up the pieces. I 
believe this was only a slight exaggeration of the 
truth, for at this particular part of the vein there had 
been found what is there called a " pocket/' a spot 
not more than a few feet in extent, where lumps of 
gold in unusual quantities lie imbedded in the rock. 
No systematic plan had been followed in opening the 
mine with a view to the proper working of it ; but 
several irregular excavations had been made in the 
rock wherever the miners had found the gold most 
plentiful. For nearly a year it had not been worked 
at all, in consequence of several disputes as to the 
ownership of the claims; and in the mean time the 
lawyers were the only parties who were making 
anything out of it. 

On the other side of the hill, however, was a claim 
on the same vein, which was in undisputed possession 
of a company of Americans, who employed a number 
of Mexicans to work it, under the direction of an 
experienced old Mexican miner. They had three 
shafts sunk in the solid rock, in a line with each other, 
to the depth of two hundred feet, from which galleries 
extended at different points, where the gold-bearing 
quartz was found in the greatest abundance. No 
ropes or windlasses were used for descending the 
shafts ; but at every thirty feet or so there was a sort 
of step or platform, resting on which was a pole with 
a number of notches cut all down one side of it ; 
and the rock excavated in the various parts of the 
mine was brought up in leathern sacks on men's 


shoulders, who had to make the ascent by climbing 
a succession of these poles. The quartz was then 
conveyed on pack- mules down to the river by a cir- 
cuitous trail, which had been cut on the steep side 
of the mountain, and was there ground in the primi- 
tive Mexican style in "rasters." The whole opera- 
tion seemed to be conducted at a most unnecessary 
expenditure of labour; but the mine was rich, and, 
even worked in this way, it yielded largely to the 

Numerous small wooden crosses were placed 
throughout the mine, in niches cut in the rock for 
their reception, and each separate part of the mine 
was named after a saint who was supposed to take 
those working in it under his immediate protection. 
The day before I visited the place had been some 
saint's day, and the Mexicans, who of course had 
made a holiday of it, had employed themselves in 
erecting, on the side of the hill over the mine, a large 
cross, about ten feet high, and had completely clothed 
it with the beautiful wildflowers which grew around 
in the greatest profusion. In fact, it was a gigantic 
cruciform nosegay, the various colours of which were 
arranged with a great deal of taste. 

This mine is on the great quartz vein which tra- 
verses the whole State of California. It has a direc- 
tion north-east and south-west, perfectly true by 
compass ; and from many points where an extensive 
view of the country is obtained, it can be distinctly 
traced for a great distance as it " crops out " here 


and there, running up a hill-side like a colossal stone- 
wall, and then disappearing for many miles, till, true 
to its course, it again shows itself crowning the 
summit of some conical-shaped mountain, and appear- 
ing in the distant view like so many short white 
strokes, all forming parts of the same straight line. 

The general belief was that at one time all the gold 
in the country had been imbedded in quartz, which, 
being decomposed by the action of the elements, had 
set the gold at liberty, to be washed away with other 
debris, and to find a resting-place for itself. Eich 
diggings were frequently found in the neighbourhood 
of quartz veins, but not invariably so, for different 
local causes must have operated to assist the gold in 
travelling from its original starting-point. 

As a general rule, the richest diggings seemed to 
be in the rivers at those points where the eddies gave 
the gold an opportunity of settling down instead of 
being borne further along by the current, or in those 
places on the high-lands where, owing to the flatness 
of the surface or the want of egress, the debris had 
been retained while the water ran off ; for the first 
idea one formed from the appearance of the moun- 
tains was, that they had been very severely washed 
down, but that there had been sufficient earth and 
debris to cover their nakedness, and to modify the 
sharp angularity of their formation. 

I crossed the Stanislaus a large river, which does 
not at any part of its course afford very rich dig- 
gings by a ferry which was the property of two or 


three Englishmen, who had lived for many years in 
the Sandwich Islands. The force of the current was 
here very strong, and by an ingenious contrivance 
was made available for working the ferry. A stout 
cable was stretched across the river, and traversing 
on this were two blocks, to which were made fast the 
head and stern of a large scow. By lengthening the 
stern line, the scow assumed a diagonal position, and, 
under the influence of the current and of the oppos- 
ing force of the cable, she travelled rapidly across 
the river, very much on the same principle on which 
a ship holds her course with the wind a-beam. 

Ferries or bridges, on much-travelled roads, were 
very valuable property. They were erected at those 
points on the rivers where the mountain on each side 
offered a tolerably easy ascent, and where, in conse- 
quence, a line of travel had commenced. But very 
frequently more easy routes were found than the one 
first adopted ; opposition ferries were then started, 
and the public got the full benefit of the competition 
between the rival proprietors, who sought to secure 
the travelling custom by improving the roads which 
led to their respective ferries. 

In opposition to this ferry on the Stanislaus, another 
had been started a few miles down the river ; so the 
Englishmen, in order to keep up the value of their 
property and maintain the superiority of their route, 
had made a good waggon-road, more than a mile in 
length, from the river to the summit of the mountain. 

After ascending by this road and travelling five or 

328 SONORA. 

six miles over a rolling country covered with magni- 
cent oak trees, and in many places fenced in and 
under cultivation, I arrived at Sonora, the largest 
town of the southern mines. It consisted of a single 
street, extending for upwards of a mile along a sort 
of hollow between gently sloping hills. Most of the 
houses were of wood, a few were of canvass, and one 
or two were solid buildings of sun-dried bricks. The 
lower end of the town was very peculiar in appear- 
ance as compared with the prevailing style of Cali- 
fornia architecture. Ornament seemed to have been 
as much consulted as utility, and the different tastes 
of the French and Mexican builders were very plainly 
seen in the high-peaked overhanging roofs, the stair- 
cases outside the houses, the corridors round each 
storey, and other peculiarities ; giving the houses 
which were painted, moreover, buff and pale blue 
quite an old-fashioned air alongside of the staring 
white rectangular fronts of the American houses. 
There was less pretence and more honesty about 
them than about the American houses, for many of 
the latter were all front, and gave the idea of a much 
better house than the small rickety clapboard or can- 
vass concern which was concealed behind it. But 
these fa9ades were useful as well as ornamental, and 
were intended to support the large signs, which con- 
veyed an immense deal of useful information. Some 
small stores, in fact, seemed bursting with intelli- 
gence, and were broken out all over with short spas- 
modic sentences in English, French, Spanish, and 


German, covering all the available space save the 
door, and presenting to the passer-by a large amount 
of desultory reading as to the nature of the property 
within and the price at which it could be bought. 
This, however, was not by any means peculiar to 
Sonora it was the general style of thing throughout 
the country. 

The Mexicans and the French also were very 
numerous, and there was an extensive assortment of 
other Europeans from all quarters, all of whom, save 
French, English, and " Eyetalians," are in California 
classed under the general denomination of Dutchmen, 
or more frequently "d d Dutchmen/' merely for 
the sake of euphony. 

Sonora is situated in the centre of an extremely 
rich mining country, more densely populated than 
any other part of the mines. In the neighbourhood 
are a number of large villages, one of which, Col- 
umbia, only two or three miles distant, was not much 
inferior in size to Sonora itself. The place took its 
name from the men who first struck the diggings and 
camped on the spot a party of miners from the 
state of Sonora in Mexico. The Mexicans discovered 
many of the richest diggings in the country not 
altogether, perhaps, through good luck, for they had 
been gold-hunters all their lives, and may be supposed 
to have derived some benefit from their experience. 
They seldom, however, remained long in possession 
of rich diggings ; never working with any vigour, 
they spent most of their time in the passive enjoy- 


ment of their cigaritas, or in playing monte, and 
were consequently very soon run over and driven 
off the field by the rush of more industrious and 
resolute men. 

There were a considerable number of Mexicans 
to be seen at work round Sonora, but the most 
of those living in the town seemed to do nothing 
but bask in the sun and loaf about the gambling- 
rooms. How they managed to live was not very 
apparent, but they can live where another man would 
starve. I have no doubt they could subsist on 
cigaritas alone for several days at a time. 

I got very comfortable quarters in one of the 
French hotels, of which there were several in the 
town, besides a number of good American houses, 
German restaurants, where lager-bier was drunk by 
the gallon; Mexican fondas, which had an exceed- 
ingly greasy look about them; and also a Chinese 
house, where everything was most scrupulously 
clean. In this latter place a Chinese woman, dressed 
in European style, sat behind the bar and served 
out drinkables to thirsty outside barbarians, while 
three Chinamen entertained them with celestial music 
from a drum something like the top of a skull cover- 
ed with parchment, and stuck upon three sticks, a 
guitar like a long stick with a knob at the end of 
it, and a sort of fiddle with two strings. I asked the 
Chinese landlord, who spoke a little English, if the 
woman was his wife. " Oh, no," he said, very in- 
dignantly, " only hired woman China woman ; hired 


her for show that's all." Some of these Chinamen 
are pretty smart fellows, and this was one of them. 
The novelty of the " show," however, wore off in a 
few days, and the Chinawoman disappeared probably 
went to show herself in other diggings. 

One could live here in a way which seemed per- 
fectly luxurious after cruising about the mountains 
among the small out-of-the-way camps ; for, besides 
having a choice of good hotels, one could enjoy most 
of the comforts and conveniences of ordinary life; 
even ice-creams and sherry-cobblers were to be had, 
for snow was packed in on mules thirty or forty 
miles from the Sierra Nevada, and no one took even 
a cocktail without its being iced. But what struck 
me most as a sign of civilisation, was seeing a drunken 
man, who was kicking up a row in the street, deli- 
berately collared and walked off to the lock-up by a 
policeman. I never saw such a thing before in the 
mines, where the spectacle of drunken men rolling 
about the streets unmolested had become so familiar 
to me that I was almost inclined to think it an in- 
fringement of the individual liberty of the subject or 
of the citizen, I should say not to allow this hog 
of a fellow to sober himself in the gutter, or to drink 
himsell into a state of quiescence if he felt so 
inclined. This policeman represented the whole 
police force in his own proper person, and truly he 
had no sinecure. He was not exactly like one of our 
own blue-bottles ; he was not such a stoical observer 
of passing events, nor so shut out from all social 


intercourse with his fellow-men. There was nothing 
to distinguish him from other citizens, except perhaps 
the unusual size of his revolver and bowie-knife ; and 
his official dignity did not prevent him from mixing 
with the crowd and taking part in whatever amuse- 
ment was going on. 

The people here dressed better than was usual in 
other parts of the mines. On Sundays especially, 
when the town was thronged with miners, it was 
quite gay with the bright colours of the various 
costumes. There were numerous specimens of the 
genuine old miner to be met with the miner of '49, 
whose pride it was to be clothed in rags and patches ; 
but the prevailing fashion was to dress well ; indeed 
there was a degree of foppery about many of the 
swells, who were got up in a most gorgeous manner. 
The weather was much too hot for any one to think 
of wearing a coat, but the usual style of dress was 
such as to appear quite complete without it ; in fact, 
a coat would have concealed the most showy article 
of dress, which was a rich silk handkerchief, scarlet, 
crimson, orange, or some bright hue, tied loosely 
across the breast, and hanging over one shoulder like 
a shoulder-belt. Some men wore flowers, feathers, 
or squirrel's tails in their hats ; occasionally the 
beard was worn plaited and coiled up like a twist of 
tobacco, or was divided into three tails hanging down 
to the waist. One man, of original ideas, who had 
very long hair, brought it down on each side of the 
face, and tied it in a large bow-knot under his chin ; 


and many other eccentricities of this sort were in- 
dulged in. The numbers of Mexican women with 
their white dresses and sparkling black eyes were by 
no means an unpleasing addition to the crowd, of 
which the Mexicans themselves formed a conspicuous 
part in their variegated blankets and broad-brimmed 
hats. There were men in bonnets rouges and bonnets 
bleus, the cut of whose mustache and beard was of 
itself sufficient to distinguish them as Frenchmen ; 
while here and there some forlorn individual exhibited 
himself in a black coat and a stove-pipe hat, looking 
like a bird of evil omen among a flock of such gay 



A COMPANY of Mexican bull-fighters were at this time 
performing in Sonora every Sunday afternoon. The 
amphitheatre was a large well-built place, erected for 
the purpose on a small hill behind the street. The 
arena was about thirty yards in diameter, and enclosed 
in a very strong six-barred fence, gradually rising 
from which, all round, were several tiers of seats, 
shaded from the sun by an awning. 

I took the first opportunity of witnessing the spec- 
tacle, and found a very large company assembled, 
among whom the Mexicans and Mexican women in 
their gay dresses figured conspicuously. A good band 
of music enlivened the scene till the appointed hour 
arrived, when the bull-fighters entered the arena. 
The procession was headed by a clown in a fantastic 
dress, who acted his part throughout the performances 
uncommonly well, cracking jokes with his friends 
among the audience, and singing comic songs. Next 
came four men on foot, all beautifully dressed in 


satin jackets and knee-breeches, slashed and em- 
broidered with bright colours. Two horsemen, armed 
with lances, brought up the rear. After marching round 
the arena, they stationed themselves in their various 
places, one of the horsemen being at the side of the 
door by which the bull was to enter. The door was then 
opened, and the bull rushed in, the horseman giving 
him a poke with his lance as he passed, just to waken 
him up. The footmen were all waving their red flags 
to attract his attention, and he immediately charged 
at one of them ; but, the man stepping gracefully aside 
at the proper moment, the bull passed on and found 
another red flag waiting for him, which he charged 
with as little success. For some time they played 
with the bull in this manner, hopping and skipping 
about before his horns with so much confidence, and 
such apparent ease, as to give one the idea that there 
was neither danger nor difficulty in dodging a wild 
bull. The bull did not charge so much as he butted, 
for, almost without changing his ground, he butted 
quickly several times in succession at the same man. 
The man, however, was always too quick for him, 
sometimes just drawing the flag across his face as he 
stepped aside, or vaulting over his horns and catching 
hold of his tail before he could turn round. 

After this exhibition one of the horsemen endea- 
voured to engage the attention of the bull, and when 
he charged, received him with the point of his lance 
on the back of the neck. In this position they strug- 
gled against each other, the horse pushing against the 


bull with all his force, probably knowing that that 
was his only chance. On one occasion the lance 
broke, when horse and rider seemed to be at the 
mercy of the bull, but as quick as lightning the foot- 
men were fluttering their flags in his face and divert- 
ing his fury, while the horseman got another lance 
and returned to the charge. 

Shortly afterwards the footmen laid aside their 
flags and proceeded to what is considered a more 
dangerous, and consequently more interesting, part of 
the performances. They lighted cigars, and were 
handed small pieces of wood, with a barbed point at 
one end and a squib at the other. Having lighted 
his squibs at his cigar, one of their number rushes up 
in front of the bull, shouting and stamping before 
him, as if challenging him to come on. The bull is 
not slow of putting down his head and making at him, 
when the man vaults nimbly over his horns, leaving 
a squib fizzing and cracking on each side of his neck. 
This makes the bull still more furious, but another 
man is ready for him, who plays him the same trick, 
and so they go on till his neck is covered with squibs. 
One of them then takes a large rosette, furnished 
in like manner with a sharp barbed point, and this, 
as the bull butts at him, he sticks in his forehead 
right between the eyes. Another man then engages 
the bull, and, while eluding his horns, removes the 
rosette from his forehead. This is considered a still 
more difficult feat, and was greeted with immense 


applause, the Mexican part of the audience screaming 
with delight. 

The performers were all uncommonly well made, 
handsome men ; their tight dresses greatly assisted 
their appearance, and they moved with so much grace, 
and with such an expression on their countenance of 
pleasure and confidence, even while making their 
greatest efforts, that they might have been supposed 
to be going through the figures of a ballet on the 
stage, instead of risking death from the horns of a wild 
bull at every step they executed. During the latter 
part of the performance, being without their red flags, 
they were of course in greater danger ; but it seemed 
to make no difference to them ; they put a squib in 
each side of the bull's neck, while evading his attack, 
with as much apparent ease as they had dodged him 
from behind their red flags. Sometimes, indeed, 
when they were hard pressed, or when attacked by 
the bull so close to the barrier that they had no room 
to manoeuvre round him, they sprang over it in 
among the spectators. 

The next thing in the programme was riding the 
bull, and this was the most amusing scene of all. One 
of the horsemen lassoes him over the horns, and the 
other, securing him in his lasso by the hind-leg, trips 
him up, and throws him without the least difficulty. 
By keeping the lassoes taut, he is quite helpless. He 
is then girthed with a rope, and one of the performers, 
holding on by this, gets astride of the prostrate 


bull in such a way as to secure his seat, when the ani- 
mal rises. The lassoes are then cast off, when the 
bull immediately gets up, and, furious at finding a 
man on his back, plunges and kicks most desperately, 
jumping from side to side, and jerking himself vio- 
lently in every way, as he vainly endeavours to bring 
his horns round so as to reach his rider. I never 
saw such horsemanship, if horsemanship it could be 
called ; nor did I ever see a horse go through such 
contortions, or make such spasmodic bounds and leaps : 
but the fellow never lost his seat, he stuck to the bull 
as firm as a rock, though thrown about so violently 
that it seemed enough to jerk the head off his body. 
During this singular exhibition the spectators cheered 
and shouted most uproariously, and the bull was 
maddened to greater fury than ever by the footmen 
shaking their flags in his face, and putting more 
squibs on his neck. It seemed to be the grand cli- 
max ; they had exhausted all means to infuriate the 
bull to the very utmost, and they were now braving 
him more audaciously than ever. Had any of them 
made a slip of the foot, or misjudged his distance but 
a hairbreadth, there would have been a speedy end of 
him; but fortunately no such mishap occurred, for 
the blind rage of the bull was impotent against their 
coolness and precision. 

"When the man riding the bull thought he had 
enough of it, he took an opportunity when the bull 
came near the outside of the arena, and hopped off 
his back on to the top of the barrier. A door was 


then opened, and the bull was allowed to depart in 
peace. Three or four more bulls in succession were 
fought in the same manner. The last of them was to 
have been killed with the sword ; but he proved one of 
those sulky treacherous animals who do not fight fair ; 
he would not put down his head and charge blindly 
at anything or everything, but only made a rush now 
and then, when he thought he had a sure chance. 
With a bull of this sort there is great danger, while 
with a furiously savage one there is none at all so say 
the bull-fighters ; and after doing all they could, with- 
out success, to madden and irritate this sulky animal, 
he was removed, and another one was brought in, 
who had already shown a requisite amount of blind 
fury in his disposition. 

A long straight sword was then handed to the 
matador, who, with his flag in his left hand, played 
with the bull for a little, evading several attacks till 
he got one to suit him, when, as he stepped aside 
from before the bull's horns, he plunged the sword 
into the back of his neck. Without a moan or a 
struggle the bull fell dead on the instant, coming 
down all of a heap, in such a way that it was evident 
that even before he fell he was dead. I have seen 
cattle butchered in every sort of way, but in none was 
the transition from life to death so instantaneous. 

This was the grand feat of the day, and was 
thought to have been most beautifully performed. 
The spectators testified their delight by the most 
vociferous applause ; the Mexican women waved their 


handkerchiefs, the Mexicans cheered and shouted, and 
threw their hats in the air, while the matador 
walked proudly round the arena, bowing to the 
people amid a shower of coin which his particular 
admirers in their enthusiasm bestowed upon him. 

I one day, at some diggings a few miles from 
Sonora, came across a young fellow hard at work 
with his pick and shovel, whom I had met several 
times at Moquelumne Hill and other places. In the 
course of conversation he told me that he was tired of 
mining, and intended to practise his profession again ; 
upon which I immediately set him down as either a 
lawyer or a doctor, there are such lots of them in the 
mines. I had the curiosity, however, to ask him 
what profession he belonged to, " Oh," he said, " I 
am a magician, a necromancer, a conjuror !" The 
idea of a magician being reduced to the level of an 
ordinary mortal, and being obliged to resort to such 
a matter-of-fact way of making money as digging 
gold out of the earth, instead of conjuring it ready 
coined out of other men's pockets, appeared to me so 
very ridiculous that I could not help laughing at 
the thought of it. The magician was by no means 
offended, but joined in the laugh ; and for the next 
hour or more he entertained me with an account of 
his professional experiences, and the many difficulties 
he had to encounter in practising his profession in 
such a place as the mines, where complete privacy 
was so hard to be obtained that he was obliged to 
practise the most secret parts of his mysterious science 


in all sorts of ragged canvass houses, or else in rooms 
whose rickety boarded walls were equally ineffectual in 
excluding the prying gaze of the unwashed. He gave 
me a great insight into the mysteries of magic, and 
explained to me how he performed many of his tricks. 
All the old-fashioned hat-tricks, he said, were quite out 
of the question in California, where, as no two hats are 
alike, it would have been impossible to have such an 
immense assortment ready, from which to select a sub- 
stitute for any nondescript head- piece which might be 
given to him to perform upon. I asked him to show 
me some of his sleight-of-hand tricks, but he said his 
hands had got so hard with mining that he would 
have to let them soften for a month or two before he 
could recover his magical powers. 

He was quite a young man, but had been regularly 
brought up to his profession, having spent several 
years as confederate to some magician of higher 
powers in the States somewhat similar, I presume, 
to serving an apprenticeship, for when I mentioned 
the names of several of his professional brethren 
whose performances I had witnessed, he would say, 
" Ah, yes, I know him ; he was confederate to so- 

As he intended very soon to resume his practice, he 
was on the look-out for a particularly smart boy to 
initiate as his confederate ; and I imagine he had 
little difficulty in finding one, for, as a general thing, 
the rising generation of California are supernaturally 
smart and precocious. 


I met here also an old friend in the person of the 
Scotch gardener who had been my fellow-passenger 
from New York to Chagres, and who was also one 
of our party on the Chagres Eiver. He was now farm - 
ing, having taken up a " ranch" a few miles from 
Sonora, near a place called Table Mountain, where he 
had several acres well fenced and cleared, and bearing 
a good crop of barley and oats, and was busy clearing 
and preparing more land for cultivation. 

This Table Mountain is a very curious place, being 
totally different in appearance and formation from 
any other mountain in the country. It is a long 
range, several miles in extent, perfectly level, and in 
width varying from fifty yards to a quarter of a 
mile, having somewhat the appearance, when seen 
from a distance, of a colossal railway embankment. 
In height it is below the average of the surround- 
ing mountains ; the sides are very steep, sometimes 
almost perpendicular, and are formed, as is also the 
summit, of masses of a burned-looking conglomerate 
rock, of which the component stones are occasionally 
as large as a man's head. The summit is smooth, 
and black with these cinder-like stones ; but at the 
season of the year at which I was there, it was a most 
beautiful sight, being thickly grown over with a pale- 
blue flower, apparently a lupin, which so completely 
covered this long level tract of ground as to give it 
in the distance the appearance of a sheet of water. 
No one at that time had thought of working this 



place, but it has since been discovered to be immensely 

A break in this long narrow Table Mountain was 
formed by a place called Shaw's Flats, a wide extent 
of perfectly flat country, four or five miles across, well 
wooded with oaks, and plentifully sprinkled over 
with miners' tents and shanties. 

The diggings were rich. The gold was very coarse, 
and frequently found in large lumps ; but how it got 
there was not easy to conjecture, for the flat was on 
a level with Table Mountain, and hollows intervened 
between it and any higher ground. Mining here 
was quite a clean and easy operation. Any old 
gentleman might have gone in and taken a turn at it 
for an hour or two before dinner just to give him an 
appetite, without even wetting the soles of his boots : 
indeed, he might have fancied he was only digging in 
his garden, for the gold was found in the very roots 
of the grass, and in most parts there was only a depth 
of three or four feet from the surface to the bed- 
rock, which was of singular character, being com- 
posed of masses of sandstone full of circular cavities, 
and presenting all manner of fantastic forms, caused 
apparently by the long-continued action of water 
in rapid motion. 



WHILE I was in Sonora, the entire town, with the 
greater part of the property it contained, was utterly 
annihilated by fire. 

It was about one o'clock in the morning when the 
fire broke out. I happened to be awake at the time, 
and at the first alarm I jumped up, and, looking out 
of my window, I saw a house a short distance up the 
street on the other side completely enveloped in 
flames. The street was lighted up as bright as day, 
and was already alive with people hurriedly removing 
whatever articles they could from their houses before 
the fire seized upon them. 

I ran down stairs to lend a hand to clear the house, 
and in the bar-room I found the landlady, e?i deshabille, 
walking frantically up and down, and putting her 
hand to her head as though she meant to tear all her 
hair out by the roots. She had sense enough left, 
however, not to do so. A waiter was there also, with 
just as little of his wits about him ; he was chatter- 

FIRE. 345 

irig fiercely, sacreing very freely, and knocking the 
chairs and tables about in a wild manner, but not 
making a direct attempt to save anything. It was 
ridiculous to see them throwing away so much bodily 
exertion for nothing, when there was so much to be 
done, so I set the example by opening the door, and 
carrying out whatever was nearest. The other in- 
mates of the house soon made their appearance, and 
we succeeded in gutting the bar-room of everything 
movable, down to the bar furniture, among which 
was a bottle labelled " Ouisqui." 

We could save little else, however, for already the 
fire had reached us. The house was above a hundred 
yards from where the fire broke out, but from the 
first alarm till it was in flames scarcely ten minutes 
elapsed. The fire spread with equal rapidity in the 
other direction. An attempt was made to save the 
upper part of the town by tearing down a number of 
houses some distance in advance of the flames ; but it 
was impossible to remove the combustible materials 
of which they were composed, and the fire suffered 
no check in its progress, devouring the demolished 
houses as voraciously in that state as though they 
had been left entire. 

On the hills, between which lay the town, were 
crowds of the unfortunate inhabitants, many of whom 
were but half dressed, and had barely escaped with 
their lives. One man told me he had been obliged to 
run for it, and had not even time to take his gold 
watch from under his pillow. 


Those whose houses were so far distant from the 
origin of the fire as to enable them to do so, had carried 
out all their movable property, and were sitting 
among heaps of goods and furniture, confusedly thrown 
together, watching grimly the destruction of their 
houses. The whole hill-side was lighted up as brightly 
as a well-lighted room, and the surrounding land- 
scape was distinctly seen by the blaze of the burning 
town, the hills standing brightly out from the deep 
black of the horizon, while overhead the glare of the 
fire was reflected by the smoky atmosphere. 

It was a most magnificent sight, and, more than 
any fire I had ever witnessed, it impressed one with 
the awful power and fury of the destroying element. 
It was not like a fire in a city where man contends 
with it for the victory, and where one can mark the 
varied fortunes of the battle as the flames become 
gradually more feeble under the efforts of the firemen, 
or again gain the advantage as they reach some easier 
prey ; but here there were no such fluctuations in the 
prospects of the doomed city it lay helplessly wait- 
ing its fate, for water there was none, and no resist- 
ance could be offered to the raging flames, which 
burned their way steadily up the street, throwing 
over the houses which still remained intact the flush 
of supernatural beauty which precedes dissolution, 
and leaving the ground already passed over covered 
with the gradually blackening and falling remains ot 
those whose spirit had already departed. 

There was an occasional flash and loud explosion, 


caused by the quantities of powder in some of the 
stores, and a continual discharge of firearms was 
heard above the roaring of the flames, from the num- 
bers of loaded revolvers which had been left to their 
fate along with more valuable property. The most 
extraordinary sight was when the fire got firm hold 
of a Jew's slop-shop ; there was then a perfect whirl- 
wind of flame, in which coats, shirts, and blankets 
were carried up fifty or sixty feet in the air, and 
became dissolved into a thousand sparkling atoms. 

Among the crowds of people on the hill-side there 
was little of the distress and excitement one might 
have expected to see on such an occasion. The 
houses and stores had been gutted as far as practi- 
cable of the property they contained, and all that it 
was possible to do to save any part of the town had 
already been attempted, but the hopelessness of such 
attempts was perfectly evident. 

The greater part of the people, it is true, were indi- 
viduals whose wealth was safe in their buckskin 
purses, and to them the pleasure of beholding such a 
grand pyrotechnic display was unalloyed by any 
greater individual misfortune than the loss of a few 
articles of clothing ; but even those who were sitting 
hatless and shoeless among the wreck of their pro- 
perty showed little sign of being at all cast down by 
their disaster ; they had more the air of determined 
men, waiting for the fire to play out its hand before 
they again set to work to repair all the destruction it 
had caused. 


The fire commenced about half-past one o'clock in 
the morning, and by three o'clock it had almost 
burned itself out. Darkness again prevailed, and 
when day dawned, the whole city of Sonora had been 
removed from the face of the earth. The ground on 
which it had stood, now white with ashes, was 
covered with still smouldering fragments, and the 
only objects left standing were three large safes 
belonging to different banking and express com- 
panies, with a small remnant of the walls of an adobe 

People now began to venture down upon the still 
smoking site of the city, and, seeing an excitement 
among them at the lower end of the town, I went 
down to see what was going on. The atmosphere 
was smoky and stifling, and the ground was almost 
too hot to stand on. The crowd was collected on a 
place which was known to be very rich, as the ground 
behind the houses had been worked, and a large 
amount of gold having been there extracted, it was 
consequently presumed that under the houses equally 
good diggings would be found. During the fire, miners 
had flocked in from all quarters, and among them 
were some unprincipled vagabonds, who were now 
endeavouring to take up mining claims on the ground 
where the houses had stood, measuring off" the regu- 
lar number of feet allowed to each man, and driving 
in stakes to mark out their claims in the usual 

The owners of the houses, however, were "on hand," 


prepared to defend their rights to the utmost. Men 
who had just seen the greater part of their property 
destroyed were not likely to relinquish very readily 
what little still remained to them ; and now, armed 
with pistols, guns, and knives, their eyes bloodshot and 
their faces scorched and blackened, they were tearing 
up the stakes as fast as the miners drove them in, while 
they declared very emphatically, with all sorts of 
oaths, that any man who dared to put a pick into that 
ground would not live half a minute. And truly a 
threat from such men was one not to be disregarded. 

By the laws of the mines, the diggings under a 
man's house are his property, and the law being on 
their side, the people would have assisted them in 
defending their rights ; and it would not have been 
absolutely necessary for them to take the trouble of 
shooting the miscreants, who, as other miners began 
to assemble on the ground, attracted by the row, 
found themselves so heartily denounced that they 
thought it advisable to sneak off as fast as possible. 

The only buildings left standing after the fire were 
a Catholic and a Wesleyan church, which stood on 
the hill a little off the street, and also a large build- 
ing which had been erected for a ball-room, or some 
other public purpose. The proprietor of the principal 
gambling saloon, as soon as the fire broke out and he 
saw that there was no hope for his house, imme- 
diately made arrangements for occupying this room, 
which, from its isolated position, seemed safe enough; 
and into this place he succeeded in moving the greater 


part of his furniture, mirrors, chandeliers, and so on. 
The large sign in front of the house was also removed 
to the new quarters, and the morning after the fire 
but an hour or two after the town had been burned 
down the new saloon was in full operation. The 
same gamblers were sitting at the same tables, deal- 
ing monte and faro to crowds of betters ; the piano 
and violin, which had been interrupted by the fire, 
were now enlivening the people in their distress; 
and the bar-keeper was as composedly as ever mixing 
cocktails for the thirsty throats of the million. 

No time was lost by the rest of the population. 
The hot and smoky ground was alive with men clear- 
ing away rubbish ; others were in the woods cutting 
down trees and getting out posts and brushwood, or 
procuring canvass and other supplies from the neigh- 
bouring camps. 

In the afternoon the Phcenix began to rise. Amid 
the crowds of workers on the long blackened tract of 
ground which had been the street, posts began here 
and there to spring up ; presently cross pieces con- 
nected them ; and before one could look round, the 
framework was filled in with brushwood. As the 
ground became sufficiently cool, people began to 
move down their goods and furniture to where their 
houses had been, where those who were not yet 
erecting either a canvass or a brush house, built 
themselves a sort of pen of boxes and casks of 

The fire originated in a French hotel, and among 


the ashes of this house were found the remains of a 
human body. There was merely the head and trunk, 
the limbs being entirely burned off. It looked like 
a charred and blackened log of wood, but the contour 
of the head and figure was preserved ; and it would 
be hard to conceive anything more painfully expres- 
sive of intense agony than the few lines which so 
powerfully indicated what had been the contorted 
position of the head, neck, and shoulders of the un- 
fortunate man when he ceased to move. The coroner 
held an inquest as soon as he could raise a jury 
out of the crowd, and in the afternoon the body was 
followed to the grave by several hundred Frenchmen. 

This was the only death from the fire which was 
discovered at the time, but among the ruins of an 
adobe house, which for some reason was not rebuilt 
for several weeks afterwards, the remains of another 
body were found, and were never identified. 

As for living on that day, one had to do the best 
one could with raw materials. Every man had to 
attend to his own commissariat ; and when it was 
time to think about dinner, I went foraging with a 
friend among the promiscuous heaps of merchandise, 
and succeeded in getting some boxes of sardines and 
a bottle of wine. We were also fortunate enough to 
find some hard bread, so we did not fare very badly ; 
and at night we lay down on the bare hill-side, and 
shared that vast apartment with two or three thou- 
sand fellow-lodgers. Happy was the man who had 
saved his blankets, mine had gone as a small con- 


tribution to the general conflagration ; but though 
the nights were agreeably cool, the want of a cover- 
ing, even in the open air, was not a very great hard- 

The next day the growth of the town was still 
more rapid. All sorts of temporary contrivances 
were erected by the storekeepers and hotel-keepers 
on the sites of their former houses. Every man was 
anxious to let the public see that he was " on hand/' 
and carrying on business as before. Sign-painters 
had been hard at work all night, and now huge signs 
on yard- wide strips of cotton cloth lined each side of 
the street, in many cases being merely laid upon the 
ground, where as yet nothing had been erected 
whereon to display them. These canvass and brush 
houses were only temporary. Every one, as soon as 
lumber could be procured, set to work to build a 
better house than the one he had lost ; and within a 
month Sonora was in all respects a finer town than 
it had been before the fire. 



ON the 4th of July I went over to Columbia, four 
miles distant from Sonora, where there were to be 
great doings, as the latter place had hardly yet re- 
covered from the effects of the fire, and was still in a 
state of transition. So Columbia, which was nearly 
as large a town, was to be the place of celebration for 
all the surrounding country. 

Early in the forenoon an immense concourse of 
people had assembled to take part in the proceedings, 
and were employing themselves in the mean time in 
drinking success to the American Eagle, in the nume- 
rous saloons and bar-rooms. The town was all stars 
and stripes ; they fluttered over nearly every house, 
and here and there hung suspended across the street. 
The day was celebrated in the usual way, with a con- 
tinual discharge of revolvers, and a vast expenditure 
of powder in squibs and crackers, together with an 
unlimited consumption of brandy. But this was only 
the overflowing of individual enthusiasm ; the regu- 


lar programme was a procession, a prayer, and an 

The procession was headed by about half-a-dozen 
ladies and a number of children the teachers and 
pupils of a school who sang hymns at intervals, when 
the brass band which accompanied them had blown 
themselves out of breath. They were followed by 
the freemasons, to the number of a hundred or so, in 
their aprons and other paraphernalia ; and after them 
came a company of about the same number of horse- 
men, the most irregular cavalry one could imagine. 
Whoever could get a four-legged animal to carry him, 
joined the ranks ; and horses, mules, and jackasses 
were all mixed up together. Next came the Hook 
and Ladder Company, dragging their hooks and 
ladders after them in regular firemen fashion; and 
after them came three or four hundred miners, walk- 
ing two and two, and dragging, in like manner, by 
a long rope, a wheelbarrow, in which were placed a 
pick and shovel, a frying-pan, an old coffee-pot, and 
a tin cup. They were marshalled by half-a-dozen 
miners, with long-handled shovels over their shoulders, 
and all sorts of ribbons tied round their old hats to 
make a show. 

Another mob of miners brought up the rear, draw- 
ing after them a long-torn on a pair of wheels. In the 
torn was a lot of " dirt," which one man stirred up 
with his shovel, as if he were washing, while a num- 
ber of others alongside were hard at work throwing 
in imaginary shovelfuls of dirt. 


The idea was pretty good ; but to understand the 
meaning of this gorgeous pageant, it was necessary to 
be familiar with mining life. The pick and shovel in 
the wheelbarrow were the emblems of the miners' 
trade, while the old pots and pans were intended to 
signify the very rough style of his domestic life, par- 
ticularly of his cuisine ; and the party of miners at 
work around the long-torn was a representation of the 
way in which the wealth of the country is wrested 
from it by all who have stout hearts and willing 
hands, or stout hands and willing hearts it amounts 
to much the same thing. 

The procession paraded the streets for two or 
three hours, and proceeded to the bull-ring, where the 
ceremonies were to be performed. The bull-ring 
here was neither so large nor so well got up as the 
one at Sonora, but still it could accommodate a very 
large number of people. As the miners entered the 
arena with their wheelbarrow and long -torn, they 
were immensely cheered by the crowds who had 
already taken their seats, the band in the mean time 
playing " Hail Columbia " most lustily. 

The Declaration of Independence was read by a 
gentleman in a white neckcloth, and the oration was 
then delivered by the " orator of the day," who was a 
pale-faced, chubby-cheeked young gentleman, with 
very white and extensive shirt-collars. He indulged 
in a great deal of bunkum about the Pilgrim Fathers, 
and Plymouth Kock, the " Blarney-stone of America," 
as the Americans call it. George the Third and his 


"red-coated minions" were alluded to in not very 
flattering terms ; and after having exhausted the 
past, the orator, in his enthusiasm, became prophetic 
of the future. He fancied he saw a distant vision of 
a great republic in Ireland, England sunk into insig- 
nificance, and all the rest of it. 

The speech was full of American and local phraseo- 
logy, but the richness of the brogue was only the 
more perceptible from the vain attempt to disguise 
it. Many of the Americans sitting near me seemed 
to think that the orator was piling up the agony a 
little too high, and signified their disapprobation by 
shouting " Gaas, gaas ! " My next neighbour, an old 
Yankee, informed me that, in his opinion, "them 
Pilgrim Fathers were no better than their neigh- 
bours ; they left England because they could not 
have everything their own way, and in America 
were more intolerant of other religions than any one 
had been of theirs in England. I know all about 
'em," he said, "for I come from right whar they 

In the middle of the arena, during the ceremonies, 
was a cage containing a grizzly bear, who had fought 
and killed a bull by torchlight the night before. 
His cage was boarded up, so that he was deprived 
of the pleasure of seeing what was going on, but he 
could hear all that was said, and expressed his opinion 
from time to time by grunting and growling most 


After the oration, the company dispersed to answer 
the loud summons of the numerous dinner-bells and 
gongs, and in the afternoon there was a bull-fight, 
which went off with great eclat. 

It was announced in the bills that the celebrated 
lady bull-fighter, the Senorita Eamona Perez, would 
despatch a bull with the sword. This celebrated 
senorita, however, turned out to be only the chief 
matador, who entered the arena very well got up 
as a woman, with the slight exception of a very 
fine pair of mustaches, which he had not thought it 
worth while to sacrifice. He had a fan in his hand, 
with which he half concealed his face, as if from 
modesty, as he curtseyed to the audience, who re- 
ceived him with shouts of laughter mixed with 
hisses and curses, however, for there were some 
who had been true believers in the senorita ; but the 
infidels were the majority, and, thinking it a good 
joke, enjoyed it accordingly. The senorita played 
with the bull for some little time with the utmost 
audacity, and with a great deal of feminine grace, 
whisking her petticoats in the bull's face with one 
hand, whilst she smoothed down her hair with the 
other. At last the sword was handed to her, which 
she received very gingerly, also a red flag ; and after 
dodging a few passes from the bull, she put the sword 
most gracefully into the back of his neck, and, hardly 
condescending to wait to see whether she had killed 
or not, she dropped both sword and flag, and ran 


out of the arena, curtseying, and kissing her hand to 
the spectators, after the manner of a ballet-dancer 
leaving the stage. 

It was a pity the fellow had not shaved off his 
mustache, as otherwise his acting was so good that 
one might have deluded oneself with the belief that 
it was really the celebrated senorita herself who was 
risking her precious life by such a very ladylike 

I had heard from many persons of two natural 
bridges on a small river called Coyote Creek, some 
twelve miles off; and as they were represented as 
being very curious and beautiful objects, I determined 
to pay them a visit. Accordingly, returning to 
M'Lean's Ferry on the Stanislaus, at the point where 
Coyote Creek joins that river, I travelled up the 
Creek for some miles, clambering over rocks and 
winding round steep overhanging banks, by a trail 
so little used that it was hardly discernible. I was 
amply repaid for my trouble, however, when, after 
an hour or two of hard climbing in the roasting hot 
sun, I at last reached the bridges, and found them 
much more beautiful natural curiosities than I had 
imagined them to be. 

Having never been able to get any very intelligible 
account of what they really were, I had supposed 
that some large rocks rolling down the mountain had 
got jammed over the creek, by the steepness of the 
rocky banks on each side, which I fancied would be 
a very easy mode of building a natural bridge. My 


idea, however, was very far from the reality. In 
fact, bridges was an inappropriate name ; they should 
rather have been called caves or tunnels. How they 
were formed is a question for geologists ; but their 
appearance gave the idea that there had been a sort 
of landslip, which blocked up the bed of the creek 
for a distance of two or three hundred feet, and to 
the height of fifty or sixty above the bed of the 
stream. They were about a quarter of a mile apart, 
and their surface was, like that of the hills, perfectly 
smooth, and covered with grass and flowers. The 
interiors were somewhat the same style of place, 
but the upper one was the larger and more curious 
of the two. The faces of the tunnel were perpen- 
dicular, presenting an entrance like a church door, 
about twelve feet high, surrounded by huge stony 
fungus-like excrescences, of a dark purple-and-green 
colour. The waters of the creek flowed in here, and 
occupied all the width of the entrance. They were 
only a few inches in depth, and gave a perfect reflec- 
tion of the whole of the interior, which was a lofty 
chamber some hundred feet in length, the straight 
sides of which met at the top in the form of a 
Gothic arch. At the further end was a vista of 
similarly arched small passages, branching off into 
darkness. The walls were deeply carved into pillars 
and grotesque forms, in which one could trace all 
manner of fanciful resemblances ; while at the base of 
some of the columns were most symmetrically-formed 
projections, many of which might be taken for fonts, 


the top of them being a circular basin containing 
water. These projections were of stone, and had the 
appearance of having congealed suddenly while in a 
boiling state. There was a beautiful regularity in 
the roughness of their surface, some of the rounded 
forms being deeply carved with circular lines, similar 
to the engine-turning on the back of a watch, and 
others being rippled like a shirt of mail, the rippling 
getting gradually and regularly finer, till at the top 
the surface was hardly more rough than that of a 
file. The walls and roof seemed to have been 
smothered over with some stuff which had hardened 
into a sort of cement, presenting a polished surface 
of a bright cream-colour, tinged here and there with 
pink and pale-green. The entrance was sufficiently 
large to light up the whole place, which, from its 
general outline, gave somewhat the idea of a church ; 
for, besides the pillars, with their flowery ornaments, 
the Gothic arches and the fonts, there was at one 
side, near the entrance, one of these stone excrescences 
much larger than the others, and which would have 
passed for a pulpit, overhung as it was by a 
projection of a similar nature, spreading out from 
the wall several feet above it. 

The sides of the arches forming the roof did not 
quite meet at the top, but looked like the crests of 
two immense foaming waves, between which were 
seen the extremities of numbers of pendants of a like 
flowery form. 

There was nothing rough or uncertain about the 

CAVES. 361 

place ; every part seemed as if it were elaborately 
finished, and in strict harmony with the whole ; and 
as the rays of the setting sun fell on the water within 
the entrance, and reflected a subdued light over the 
brilliant hues of the interior, it looked like a gorgeous 
temple, which no art could improve, and such as no 
human imagination could have designed. At the 
other end of the tunnel the water emerged from a 
much smaller cave, and which was so low as not to 
admit of a man crawling in. 

The caves, at each end of the other tunnel, were 
also very small, though the architecture was of the 
same flowery style. The faces of it, however, were 
extremely beautiful. To the height of fifty or sixty 
feet they presented a succession of irregular overhang- 
ing projections, bulging out like immense mushrooms, 
of which the prevailing hue was a delicate pink, 
with occasional patches of bright green. 

In any part of the Old World such a place would 
be the object of a pilgrimage ; and even where it 
was, it attracted many visitors, numbers of whom 
had, according to the established custom of snobhood, 
acknowledged their own insignificance, and had 
sought a little immortality for their wretched names 
by scratching them on a large smooth surface by the 
side of the entrance to the cave. 

While I was there, an old Yankee miner came to 
see the place. He paid a very hurried visit he 
had not even time to scratch his initials ; but he 
was enthusiastic in his admiration of this beautiful 


object of nature, which, however, he thought was 
quite thrown away in such an out-of-the-way part 
of creation. It distressed him to think that such a 
valuable piece of property could not be turned to 
any profitable account. " Now," said he, " if I had 
this here thing jist about ten miles from New York 
city, Fd show it to the folks at twenty-five cents 
a-head, and make an everlastin' pile of money out 
of it." 



THE only miners on the Creek were Frenchmen, two 
or three of whom lived in a very neat log-cabin, 
close to the tunnel. Behind it was a small kitchen- 
garden in a high state of cultivation, and alongside 
was a very diminutive fac-simile of the cabin itself, 
which was tenanted by a knowing -looking little 

The whole establishment had a finished and civil- 
ised air about it, and was got up with a regard to 
appearances which was quite unusual. 

But of all the men of different nations in the mines, 
the French were most decidedly those who, judging 
from their domestic life, appeared to be most at home. 
Not that they were a bit better than others able to 
stand the hard work and exposure and privations, but 
about all their huts and cabins, however roughly 
constructed they might be, there was something in 
the minor details which bespoke more permanency 


than was suggested by the generality of the rude 
abodes of the miners. It is very certain that, with- 
out really expending more time or labour, or even 
taking more trouble than other men about their 
domestic arrangements, they did " fix things up " 
with such a degree of taste, and with so much method 
about everything, as to give the idea that their life 
of toil was mitigated by more than a usual share of 
ease and comfort. 

A backwoodsman from the Western States is in 
some respects a good sort of fellow to be with in the 
mountains, especially where there are hostile Indians 
about, for he knows their ways, and can teach them 
manners with his five-foot-barrel rifle when there is 
occasion for it ; he can also put up a log-cabin in 
no time, and is of course up to all the dodges of border 
life ; but this is his normal condition, and he can- 
not be expected to appreciate so much as others, or to 
be so apt at introducing, all the little luxuries of a 
more civilised existence of which he has no know- 

An old sailor is a useful man in the mines, when 
you can keep brandy out of his reach ; and, to do him 
justice, there is method in his manner of drinking. 
He lives under the impression that all human exist- 
ence should be subdivided, as at sea, into watches ; for 
when ashore he only lengthens their duration, and 
takes his watch below as a regular matter of duty, 
keeping below as long as the grog lasts ; after which 
he comes on deck again, quite refreshed, and remains 


as sober as a judge for two or three weeks. His 
useful qualities, however, consist in the extraordi- 
nary delight he takes in patching and mending, and 
tinkering up whatever stands in need of such service. 
He is great at sweeping and scrubbing, and keeping 
things clean generally, and, besides, knows something 
of tailoring, shoemaking, carpentering ; in fact, he 
can turn his hand to anything, and generally does it 
artistically, while his resources are endless, for he 
has a peculiar genius for making one thing serve the 
purpose of another, and is never at a loss for a 

But whatever the specialties and accomplishments 
of individuals or of classes, the French, as a nation, 
were excelled by no other in the practice of the art 
of making themselves personally comfortable. They 
generally located themselves in considerable numbers, 
forming small communities of their own, and always 
appeared to be jolly, and enjoying themselves. They 
worked hard enough while they were at it, but in 
their intervals of leisure they gave themselves up to 
what seemed at least to be a more unqualified enjoy- 
ment of the pleasures of the moment than other 
miners, who never entirely laid aside the earnest and 
careworn look of the restless gold-hunter. 

This enviable faculty, which the Frenchmen ap- 
peared to possess in such a high degree, of bringing 
somewhat of the comforts of civilised life along with 
them, was no doubt a great advantage ; but whether 
it operated favourably or otherwise towards their 


general success as miners, is not so certain. One 
would naturally suppose that the more thoroughly a 
man rested from mental or bodily labour, the more 
able would he be for renewed exertions ; but at the 
same time, a man whose mind is entirely engrossed 
and preoccupied with one idea, is likely to attain his 
end before the man who only devotes himself to the 
pursuit of that object at stated intervals. 

However that may be, there is no question that, 
as miners, the French were far excelled by the 
Americans and by the English for they are in- 
separably mixed up together there are thorough- 
going Americans who, only a year or two ago, were 
her Majesty's most faithful subjects, and who still in 
their hearts cherish the recollection. The Frenchmen, 
perhaps, possessed industry and energy enough, if 
they had had a more practical genius to direct it ; 
but in proportion to their numbers, they did not 
bear a sufficiently conspicuous part, either in mining 
operations, or in those branches of industry which 
have for their object the converting of the natural 
advantages of a country to the service of man. The 
direction of their energies was more towards the 
supplying of those wants which presuppose the ex- 
istence of a sufficiently wealthy and luxurious class 
of consumers, than towards seizing on such resources 
of the country as offered them the means of enriching 
themselves in a manner less immediately dependent 
on their neighbours. 

Even as miners, they for the most part congre- 


gated round large camps, and were never engaged in 
the same daring undertakings as the Americans 
such as lifting half a mile of a large river from its 
bed, or trenching for miles the sides of steep moun- 
tains, and building lofty viaducts supported on scaf- 
folding which, from its height, looked like a spider's 
web ; while the only pursuits they engaged in, ex- 
cept mining, were the keeping of restaurants, esta- 
minets, cafes chantants, billiard - rooms, and such 
places, ministering more to the pleasures than to the 
necessities of man ; and not in any way adding to 
the wealth of the country, by rendering its resources 
more available. 

Comparing the men of different nations, the pur- 
suits they were engaged in, and the ends they had 
accomplished, one could not help being impressed 
with the idea, that if the mines had been peopled 
entirely by Frenchmen if all the productive re- 
sources of the country had been in their hands it 
would yet have been many years before they would 
have raised California to the rank and position of 
wealth and importance which she now holds. 

And it is quite fair to draw a general conclusion 
regarding them, based upon such evidences of their 
capabilities as they afforded in California ; for not only 
did they form a very considerable proportion of the 
population, but, as among people of other nations, 
there were also among them men of all classes. 

In many respects they were a most valuable 
addition to the population of the country, especially 


in the cities, but as colonisers and subjugators of a 
new country, their inefficiency was very apparent. 
They appeared to want that daring and independent 
spirit of individual self-reliance which impels an 
American or Englishman to disregard all counsel and 
companionship, and to enter alone into the wildest 
enterprise, so long as he himself thinks it feasible ; 
or, disengaging himself for the time being from all 
communication with his fellow-men, to plunge into 
the wilderness, and there to labour steadily, uncheered 
by any passing pleasure, and with nothing to sustain 
him in his determination but his own confidence in 
his ability ultimately to attain his object. 

One scarcely ever met a Frenchman travelling 
alone in search of diggings ; whereas the Ameri- 
cans and English whom one encountered were nearly 
always solitary individuals, " on their own hook," 
going to some distant part where they had heard the 
diggings were good, but at the same time ready to 
stop anywhere, or to change their destination accord- 
ing to circumstances. 

The Frenchmen were too gregarious ; they were 
either found in large numbers, or not at all. They 
did not travel about much, and, when they did, were 
in parties of half-a-dozen. While Americans would 
travel hundreds of miles to reach a place which they 
believed to be rich, the great object of the French- 
men, in their choice of a location, seemed to be, to 
be near where a number of their countrymen were 
already settled. 


But though they were so fond of each other's 
company, they did not seem to possess that cohesive- 
ness and mutual confidence necessary for the successful 
prosecution of a joint undertaking. Many kinds of 
diggings could only be worked to advantage by com- 
panies of fifteen or twenty men, but Frenchmen were 
never seen attempting such a combination. Occa- 
sionally half-a-dozen or so worked together, but even 
then the chances were that they squabbled among 
themselves, and broke up before they had got their 
claim into working order, and so lost their labour from 
their inability to keep united in one plan of operations. 

In this respect the Americans had a very great 
advantage, for, though strongly imbued with the 
spirit of individual independence, they are certainly 
of all people in the world the most prompt to organise 
and combine to carry out a common object. They 
are trained to it from their youth in their innumer- 
able, and to a foreigner unintelligible, caucus-meet- 
ings, committees, conventions, and so forth, by means 
of which they bring about the election of every 
officer in the State, from the President down to the 
policeman ; while the fact of every man belonging to a 
fire company, a militia company, or something of that 
sort, while it increases their idea of individual import- 
ance, and impresses upon them the force of combined 
action, accustoms them also to the duty of choosing 
their own leaders, and to the necessity of afterwards 
recognising them as such by implicit obedience. 
Certain it is that, though the companies of Ameri- 
2 A 


can miners were frequently composed of what seemed 
to be most incongruous materials rough uneducated 
men, and men of refinement and education yet they 
worked together as harmoniously in carrying out 
difficult mining and engineering operations, under 
the directions of their " captain," as if they had 
been a gang of day-labourers who had no right 
to interfere as to the way in which the work should 
be conducted. 

The captain was one of their number, chosen for his 
supposed ability to carry out the work ; but if they 
were not satisfied with his performances, it was a 
very simple matter to call a meeting, at which the 
business of deposing, or accepting the resignation of 
the incompetent officer, and appointing a successor, 
was put through with all the order and formality 
which accompanies the election of a president of any 
public body. Those who would not submit to the 
decision of the majority might sell out, but the prose- 
cution of a work undertaken was never abandoned or 
in any way retarded by the discordance of opinion on 
the part of the different members of the company. 

Individuals could not work alone to any advan- 
tage. All mining operations were carried on by 
parties of men, varying in number according to the 
nature of their diggings ; and the strange assortment 
of dissimilar characters occasionally to be found thus 
brought into close relationship was but a type of the 
general state of society, which was such as completely 
to realise the idea of perfect social equality. 


There are occasions on which, among small com- 
munities, an overwhelming emotion, common to all, 
may obliterate all feeling of relative superiority ; but 
the history of the world can show no such picture of 
human nature upon the same scale as was to be seen 
in the mines, where, among a population of hundreds 
of thousands of men, from all parts of the world, and 
from every order of society, no individual or class was 
accounted superior to another. 

The cause of such a state of things was one which 
would tend to produce the same result elsewhere. It 
consisted in this, that each man enjoyed the capa- 
bility of making as much money as his neighbour; for 
hard labour, which any man could accomplish with 
legs and arms, without much assistance from his 
head, was as remunerative as any other occupation 
consequently, all men indiscriminately were found so 
employing themselves, and mining or any other kind 
of labour was considered as dignified and as honour- 
able a pursuit as any other. 

In fact, so paramount was this idea, that in some 
men it created an impression that not to labour was 
degrading that those who did not live by actual 
physical toil were men who did not come up to the 
scratch who rather shirked the common lot of all, 
" man's original inheritance, that he should sweat for 
his poor pittance/' I recollect once arriving in the 
middle of the night in San Francisco, when it was 
not by any means the place it now is, and finding all 
the hotels full, I was compelled to take refuge in an 


establishment which offered no other accommodation 
to the public than a lot of beds half-a-dozen in a 
room. When I was paying my dollar in the morning 
for having enjoyed the privilege of sleeping on one of 
these concerns, an old miner was doing the same. 
He had no coin, but weighed out an ounce of dust, 
and while getting his change he seemed to be study- 
ing the keeper of the house, as a novel and interest- 
ing specimen of human nature. The result showed 
itself in an expression of supreme contempt on his 
worn and sunburnt features, as he addressed the 
object of his contemplation : " Say now, stranger, do 
you donothin' else but just sit thar and take a dollar 
from every man that sleeps on them beds 1 " 

" Yes, that's my business," replied the man. 

" Well, then," said the miner after a little further 
reflection, "it's a d d mean way of making your 
living, that's all I can say." 

This idea was natural enough to the man who so 
honestly expressed it, but it was an exaggeration of 
that which prevailed in the mines, for no occupation 
gave any man a superiority over his neighbours ; 
there was no social scale in which different classes 
held different positions, and the only way in which a 
man could distinguish himself from others was by 
what he actually had in him, by his own personal 
qualities, and by the use he could make of them ; 
and any man's intrinsic merit it was not difficult to 
discover ; for it was not as in countries where the whole 
population is divided into classes, and where indivi- 


duals from widely different stations are, when thrown 
together, prevented, by a degree of restraint and 
hypocrisy on both sides, from exhibiting themselves 
exactly as they would to their ordinary associates. 
Here no such obstacle existed to the most unreserved 
intercourse ; the habitual veil of imposition and 
humbug, under which men usually disguise them- 
selves from the rest of the world, was thrown aside as 
a useless inconvenience. They took no trouble to con- 
ceal what passed within them, but showed themselves 
as they were, for better or for worse as the case might 
be sometimes, no doubt, very much for the worse; but 
in most instances first impressions were not so favour- 
able as those formed upon further acquaintance. 

Society so to call it certainly wanted that 
superfine polish which gives only a cold reflection of 
what is offered to it. There was no pinchbeck or 
Brummagem ware ; every man was a genuine solid 
article, whether gold, silver, or copper : he was the 
same sterling metal all the way through which he 
was on the surface ; and the generous frankness and 
hearty goodwill which, however roughly expressed, 
were the prevailing characteristics of the miners, were 
the more grateful to the feelings, as one knew that no 
secondary or personal motive sneaked beneath them. 

It would be hard to say what particular class of men 
was the most numerous in the mines, because few 
retained any distinguishing characteristic to denote 
their former position. 

The backwoodsman and the small farmer from the 


Western States, who formed a very large proportion 
of the people, could be easily recognised by many 
peculiarities. The educated man, who had lived and 
moved among gentlemen, was also to be detected 
under any disguise ; but the great mass of the people 
were men who, in their appearance and manners, 
afforded little clue to their antecedents. 

From the mode of life and the style of dress, men 
became very much assimilated in outward appear- 
ance, and acquired also a certain individuality of 
manner, which was more characteristic of what they 
now were of the independent gold-hunter than of 
any other order of mankind. 

It was easy enough, if one had any curiosity on 
the subject, to learn something of a man's history, 
for there was little reserve used in alluding to it. 
What a man had been, mattered as little to him as it 
did to any one else ; and it was refreshing to find, as 
was generally the case, that one's preconceived ideas 
of a man were so utterly at variance with the truth. 

Among such a motley crowd one could select his 
own associates, but the best-informed, the most enter- 
taining, and those in many respects the most desir- 
able, were not always those whose company one 
could have enjoyed where the inseparable barriers of 
class are erected ; and it is difficult to believe that 
any one, after circulating much among the different 
types of mankind to be found in the mines, should 
not have a higher respect than before for the various 
classes which they represented. 



AFTER a month or two spent on the Tuolumne and 
Merced rivers, and in the more sparsely populated 
section of country lying still farther south, I returned 
to Sonora, on my way to San Francisco. 

Here I took the stage for Stockton a large open 
waggon, drawn by five horses, three leaders abreast. 
We were well ballasted with about a dozen passengers, 
the most amusing of whom was a hard dried-up man, 
dressed in a greasy old leathern hunting-shirt, and 
inexpressibles to match, all covered with tags and 
fringes, and clasping in his hand a long rifle, which 
had probably been his bosom-friend all his life. He 
took an early opportunity of informing us all that he 
was from Arkansas ; that he came to " Calaforny " 
across the plains, and having been successful in the 
diggings, he was now on his way home. He was like 


a schoolboy going home for the holidays, so delighted 
was he with the prospect before him. It seemed to 
surprise him very much that all the rest of the party 
were not also bound for Arkansas, and he evidently 
looked upon us, in consequence, with a degree of 
compassionate interest, as much less fortunate mortals, 
and very much to be pitied. 

We started at four o'clock in the morning, so as to 
accomplish the sixty or seventy miles to Stockton 
before the departure of the San Francisco steamer. 
The first ten or twelve miles of our journey were 
consequently performed in the dark, but that did not 
affect our speed ; the road was good, and it was only 
in crossing the hollows between the hills that the 
navigation was difficult ; for in such places the 
diggings had frequently encroached so much on the 
road as to leave only sufficient space for a waggon to 
pass between the miners' excavations. 

We drove about thirty miles before we were quite 
out of the mining regions. The country, however, 
became gradually less mountainous, and more suitable 
for cultivation, and every half-mile or so we passed 
a house by the roadside, with ploughed fields around 
it, and whose occupant combined farming with 
tavern -keeping. This was all very pleasant travel- 
ling, but the most wretched part of the journey was 
when we reached the plains. The earth was scorched 
and baked, the heat was more oppressive than in the 
mountains, and for about thirty miles we moved 


along enveloped in a cloud of dust, which soaked 
into one's clothes and hair and skin as if it had 
been a liquid substance. On our arrival in Stock- 
ton we were of a uniform colour all over all 
identity of person was lost as much as in a party of 
chimney-sweeps; but fortunately the steamer did not 
start for an hour, so I had time to take a bath, and 
make myself look somewhat like a white man before 
going on board. 

The Stockton steamboats, though not so large as 
those which run to Sacramento, were not inferior in 
speed. We steamed down the San Joaquin at about 
twenty miles an hour, and reached San Francisco at 
ten o'clock at night. 

San Francisco retained now but little resemblance 
to what it had been in its earlier days. The same 
extraordinary contrasts and incongruities were not to 
be seen either in the people or in the appearance of 
the streets. Men had settled down into their proper 
places; the various branches of business and trade had 
worked for themselves their own distinct channels; 
and the general style of the place was very much the 
same as that of any flourishing commercial city. 

It had increased immensely in extent, and its 
growth had been in all directions. The barren sand- 
hills which surrounded the city had been graded 
down to an even slope, and were covered with streets 
of well-built houses, and skirted by populous suburbs. 
Four or five wide streets, more than a mile in length, 


built up with solid and uniform brick warehouses, 
stretched all along in front of the city, upon ground 
which had been reclaimed from the bay ; and between 
these and the upper part of the city was the region 
of fashionable shops and hotels, banks and other 
public offices. 

The large fleet of ships which for a long time, while 
seamen's wages were exorbitantly high, lay idly in the 
harbour, was now dispersed, and all the shipping 
actually engaged in discharging cargo found accom- 
modation alongside of the numerous piers which had 
been built out for nearly a mile into the bay. All 
manner of trades and manufactures were flourishing 
as in a place a hundred years old. Omnibuses plied 
upon the principal thoroughfares, and numbers of 
small steamboats ran to the watering-places which 
had sprung up on the opposite shore. 

The style of life had improved with the growth of 
the city, and with the increased facilities of procur- 
ing servants and house-room. The ordinary conven- 
tionalities of life were observed, and public opinion 
exercised its wonted control over men's conduct ; for 
the female part of creation was so numerously repre- 
sented, that births and marriages occupied a space 
in the daily papers larger than they require in many 
more populous places. 

Female influence was particularly observable in the 
great attention men paid to their outward appearance. 
There was but little of the independent taste and 


individuality in dress of other days ; all had succumbed 
to the sway of the goddess of fashion, and the usual 
style of gentleman's dress was even more elaborate 
than in New York. All classes had changed, to a 
certain extent, in this respect. The miner, as he is seen 
in the mines, was not to be met with in San Francisco ; 
he attired himself in suitable raiment in Sacramento 
or Stockton before venturing to show himself in the 

Gambling was decidedly on the wane. Two or 
three saloons were still extant, but the company to 
be found in them was not what it used to be. The 
scum of the population was there; but respectable men, 
with a character to lose, were chary of risking it by 
being seen in a public gambling-room ; and, moreover, 
the greater domestic comfort which men enjoyed, 
and the usual attractions of social life, removed all 
excuse for frequenting such places. 

Public amusements were of a high order. Bis- 
caccianti and Catherine Hayes were giving concerts, 
Madame Anne Bishop was singing in English opera, 
and the performances at the various theatres were 
sustained by the most favourite actors from the 
Atlantic States. 

Extravagant expenditure is a marked feature in 
San Francisco life. The same style of ostentation, 
however, which is practised in older countries, is 
unattainable in California, and in such a country 
would entirely fail in its effect. Extravagance, accord- 


ingly, was indulged more for the purpose of procur- 
ing tangible enjoyment than for the sake of show. 
Men spent their money in surrounding themselves 
with the best of everything, not so much for display 
as from due appreciation of its excellence ; for there 
is no city of the same size or age where there is so 
little provincialism ; the inhabitants, generally, are 
eminently cosmopolitan in their character, and judge 
of merit by the highest standard. 

As yet, the influence of California upon this country 
is not so much felt by direct communication as through 
the medium of the States. A very large proportion of 
the English goods consumed in the country find their 
way there through the New York market, and in many 
cases in such a shape, as in articles manufactured in 
the States from English materials, that the actual 
value of the trade cannot be accurately estimated. 
The tide of emigration from this country to California 
follows very much the same course. The English are 
there very numerous, but those direct from England 
bear but an exceedingly small proportion to those 
from the United States, from New South Wales, and 
other countries ; and the latter, no doubt, possessed 
a great advantage, for, without undervaluing the 
merit of English mechanics and workmen in their 
own particular trade, it must be allowed that the 
same class of Americans are less confined to one spe- 
ciality, and have more general knowledge of other 
trades, which makes them better men to be turned 


adrift in a new country, where they may have to 
employ themselves in a hundred different ways before 
they find an opportunity of following the trade to 
which they have been brought up. An English 
mechanic, after a few years' experience of a younger 
country, without losing any of the superiority he 
may possess in his own trade, becomes more fitted to 
compete with the rest of the world when placed in a 
position where that speciality is unavailable. 

California has afforded the Americans their first 
opportunity of showing their capacity as colonists. 
The other States which have, of late years, been 
added to the Union, are not a fair criterion, for they 
have been created merely by the expansion of the 
outer circumference of civilisation, by the restlessness 
of the backwoodsman unaided by any other class ; but 
the attractions offered by California were such as to 
draw to it a complete ready-made population of active 
and capable men, of every trade and profession. 

The majority of men went there with the idea of 
digging gold, or without any definite idea of how 
they would employ themselves ; but as the wants of 
a large community began to be felt, the men were 
already at hand capable of supplying them ; and the 
result was, that in many professions, and in all the 
various branches of mechanical industry, the same 
degree of excellence was exhibited as is known in 
any part of the world. 

Certainly no new country ever so rapidly advanced 


to the same high position as California ; but it is 
equally true that no country ever commenced its 
career with such an effective population, or with the 
same elements of wealth to work upon. There are 
circumstances, however, connected with the early 
history of the country which may not appear to be 
so favourable to immediate prosperity and progress. 
Other new countries have been peopled by gradual 
accessions to an already formed centre, from which 
the rest of the mass received character and con- 
sistency ; but in the case of California the process 
was much more abrupt. Thousands of men, hitherto 
unknown to each other, and without mutual relation- 
ship, were thrown suddenly together, unrestrained by 
conventional or domestic obligations, and all more 
intently bent than men usually are upon the one 
immediate object of acquiring wealth. It is to be 
wondered that chaos and anarchy were not at first 
the result of such a state of things ; but such was 
never the case in any part of the country ; and it is, 
no doubt, greatly owing to the large proportion of 
superior men among the early settlers, and to the 
capacity for self-government possessed by all classes 
of Americans, that a system of government was at 
once organised and maintained, and that the country 
was so soon entitled to rank as one of the most 
important States of the Union. 

The consequences to the rest of the world of the 
gold of California it is not easy to determine, and it 


is not for me to enter upon the great question as to 
the effect on prices of an addition to the quantity of 
precious metals in the world of 250,000,000, which 
in round numbers is the estimated amount of gold and 
silver produced within the last eight years. It seems, 
however, more than probable that the present high 
range of prices may, to a certain extent, be caused by 
this immense addition to our stock of gold and silver. 
But the question becomes more complicated when we 
consider the extraordinary impetus given to com- 
merce and manufactures by this sudden production 
of gold acting simultaneously with the equally ex- 
panding influence of Free Trade. The time cannot 
be far off when this important investigation must be 
entered upon with all that talent which can be 
brought to bear upon it. But this is the domain of 
philosophers, and of those whose part in life it is 
to do the deep-thinking for the rest of the world. I 
have no desire to trespass on such ground, and abstain 
also from fruitlessly wandering in the endless mazes 
of the Currency question. 

There are other thoughts, however, which cannot 
but arise on considering the modern discoveries of 
gold. When we see a new country and a new home 
provided for our surplus population, at a time when 
it was most required when a fresh supply of gold, 
now a necessary to civilisation, is discovered, as we 
were evidently and notoriously becoming so urgently 
in want of it, we cannot but recognise the ruling hand 


of Providence. And when we see the uttermost parts 
of the earth suddenly attracting such an immense 
population of enterprising, intelligent, earnest Anglo- 
Saxon men, forming, with a rapidity which seems 
miraculous, new communities and new powers such 
as California and Australia, we must indeed look upon 
this whole Golden Legend as one of the most won- 
drous episodes in the history of mankind. 









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" We have no hesitation in saying, that of the many systems of keeping farm-accounts which are in 
vogue, there is not one which will bear comparison with that just issued by Messrs Blackwood, accord- 
ing to the recommendations of Mr Stephens 'in his invaluable ' Book of the Farm.' The great 
characteristic of this system is its simplicity. When once the details are mastered, which it will take 
very little trouble to accomplish, it will be prized as the clearest method to show the profit and loss of 
business, and to prove how the soundest and surest calculations can be arrived at. We earnestly recom- 
mend a trial of the entire series of Books they must be used as a whole to be thoroughly profitable 
for we are convinced the verdict of our agricultural friends who make such a trial will speedily accord 
with our own that they owe a deep debt of gratitude both to Mr Stephens and Messrs Blackwood for 
providing a method so complete and satisfactory to their hands." BtlL's Messenger. 

' From experience we can strongly recommend this system to all actual and commencing agricultu- 
rists, combining, as it does, all the elements of utility with simplicity." The Field. 

" Mr Stephens is so thoroughly conversant with all that is essential to be set down in the Farmer's 
Account- Book, that it is something to find him induced to prepare a set of books for the agriculturist. 
These we find reduced by him to what must be regarded as the simplest and most essential element of a 

sound double entry system The ease and obvious accuracy of these books abundantly 

recommend them." Notts Guardian. 

William Blackwood and Sons. 


Professor Terrier. 

Publishing Quarterly, in Crown Octavo, price 6s. each Volume. 

The Volumes published contain 


Complete in Four Volumes, with GLOSSARY and INDEX, price 24s. 


Vols. 5, 6, and 7. 

Future Volumes will contain 





In Octavo, price 14s., with Illustrations by the Author. 


By J. D. Borthwick. 


A Cheap Edition, in 5 Vols., price 24s. bound in cloth, viz. : 

VOLS. II. & III. TEN THOUSAND A- YEAR, 2 vols., 9s. 
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Professor Xtt'Crie. 

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By Laurence Oliphant, Esq. 
Author of a " Journey to Nepaul," &c. 

" The latest and best account of the actual state of Russia." Standard. 

" The book bears ex facie indisputable marks of the shrewdness, quick-sightedness, can- 
dour, and veracity of the author. It is the production of a gentleman, in the true English 
sense of the word." Daily News. 

In Octavo, Illustrated with Engravings, price 12s. 6d., 


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" One of the most daring and resolute of travellers. ... . A volume fuller of 
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By Lieut. Van De Velde. 

" He has contributed much to the knowledge of the country, and the unction with which 
he speaks of the holy places which he has visited, will commend the book to the notice of all 
religious readers. His illustrations of Scripture are numerous and admirable." Daily News. 

William Blackwood and Sons. 11 

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By James F. Ferrier, A.B., Oxon. 

Professor of Moral Philosophy and Political Economy, St Andrews. 

" It is a pleasure to meet with a man who, in these days of half-beliefs and feeble asser- 
tions, will venture to speak thus strongly. It is a still greater pleasure to meet with a man of 
profound thought and astonishing subtlety, who is able to express the most abstruse mean- 
ings in the most simple language, and to scatter the light spray of wit and pleasantry over 
those abysses of thought which lead down to the terrible Domdaniel roots of the ocean. We 
find it difficult to mention any other English work on metaphysics, with even half its power 
of thought, which can be compared with it in point of style. ' The Institutes of Metaphysic ' 
is indeed the most suggestive work on the subject that has been published for many a long 
year, and it is the most readable." Daily News. 



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Principal and Primarius Professor of Theology, St Mary's College, St Andrews. 




By James Smith, Esq. of Jordanhill, F.H.S. 

Author of the ' ' Voyage and Shipwreck of St Paul. " Medium Octavo, price 16s. 

" Displays much learning, is conceived in a reverential spirit, and executed with great 
skill No public school or college ought to be without it." Standard. 

In Octavo, price 14s. 



By Prof. Charles Weiss of the Xiycee Buonaparte. 

" We have risen from the perusal of Mr Weiss's book with feelings of extreme gratification. 
The period embraced by this work includes the most heart-stirring times of the eventful 
History of Protestantism, and is of surpassing interest." Britanni a. 

12 Works Published by 



In Two large Volumes Royal Octavo, embellished with 1353 Engravings, 


By Charles M'Xntosh, 

Late Curator of the Royal Gardens of His Majesty the King of the Belgians, 
and latterly of those of His Grace the Duke of Buccleuch, at Dalkeith Palace. 

Each Volume may be, had separately, viz. .- 

I. ARCHITECTURAL AND ORNAMENTAL. Pp. 776, embellished with 1073 
Engravings, price 2. 10s. 

II. PRACTICAL GARDENING. Pp. 876, embellished with 280 Engravings, price 

" We must congratulate both editor and publishers on the completion of this work, which is 
every way worthy of the character of all concerned in its publication. The scientific knowledge 
and great experience of the editor in all that pertains to horticulture, not only as regards cul- 
tivation, but as a landscape-gardener and garden architect, has enabled him to produce a work 
which brings all that is known ot the various subjects treated of down to the present time ; 
while the manner in which the work is illustrated merits our highest approval." The Florist. 

" Mr M'Intosh's splendid and valuable ' Book of the Garden ' is at length complete by 
the issue of the second volume. It is impossible in a notice to do justice to this work. 
There is no other within our knowledge at all to compare with it in comprehensiveness and 
ability; and it will be an indispensable possession for the practical gardener, whether amateur 
or professional." The London Guardian. 

In Two Volumes Royal Octavo, price 3, handsomely bound in cloth, 
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By Henry Stephens, F.R.S.E. 

Corresponding Member of the Socie'te' Imperiale et Centrale d'Agricultiire of France, 
and of the Royal Agricultural Society of Galicia. 


" The best practical book I have ever met with." Professor Johnston. 

" We assure agricultural students that they will derive both pleasure and profit from a 
diligent perusal of this clear directory to rural labour. The experienced farmer will perhaps 
think that Mr Stephens dwells upon some matters too simple or too trite to need explana- 
tion ; but we regard this as a fault leaning to virtue's side in an instructional book. The 
young are often ashamed to ask for an explanation of simple things, and are too often dis- 
couraged by an indolent or supercilious teacher if they do. But Mr Stephens entirely 
escapes this error, for he indicates every step the young farmer should take, and, one by one, 

explains their several bearings We have thoroughly examined these volumes ; 

but to give a full notice of their varied and valuable contents would occupy a larger space 
than we can conveniently devote to their discussion ; we therefore, in general terms, com- 
mend them to the careful study of every young man who wishes to become a good practical 
farmer. ' ' Times. 

" A work, the excellence of which is too well known to need any remarks of ours." 
Farmers' Magazine.